04 March 2012

Northwestern 70 IO_A 66 (F)

Northwestern (18-12,8-10) outscored Io_a 19-2 over the final five minutes of the first half to erase a 33-23 deficit and waltz into halftime with momentum and a 42-35 lead.  Io_a looked very good early on Senior Day building a modest lead against NU's man defense and extending the lead with a couple of bombs from the corner against the 1-3-1.  It was at that moment that we feared yesterday would not be NU's day.

To Coach Carmody's credit he stuck with the 1-3-1 and did that decision ever pay dividends.  Over the last 10 minutes of the first half Io_a looked increasingly uncomfortable against the 1-3-1, and by the time half time rolled around the game looked very similar to the NU blowout of Io_a in Evanston a few weeks ago.

To Io_a's credit they steadied themselves enough to keep the NU lead to 10 points midway through the second half.  Io_a then stepped up the defensive pressure during the final 10 minutes, but offensive rebounds on two straight NU possessions were converted into buckets and kept NU's margin at a comfortable 6 points.

Things felt as if they were starting to slip on NU's next possession that began shortly after 4 minute mark.  For the third straight possession the Wildcats grabbed an offensive rebound which Davide Curletti quickly passed back out to Alex Marcotullio.  Marcotullio instinctively decided to force the ball down low for an easy bucket, but Io_a's Aaron White easily intercepted the pass.  This was a poor decision that we were convinced was going to haunt NU.

Matt Gatens nailed an NBA bomb from the top of the key to close the gap to 2 points with 2 minutes to go.  OK now we're officially worried.  What the heck were you thinking Marcotullio?  Where are some ROLAIDS when you need them?  Shurna misses the front end of a one-and-one with 1:18 to play.  Arghhh!  We're hyperventilating!  Quick someone get us some paper bags to breathe into.

Cartright turns the ball over with 0:53 to play.  Phew at last some relief!  Dave Sobolewski drives it to the bucket with the shot clock winding down, misses the desperation layup from under the basket but grabs the carom.  Yes!  But wait.  Did the ball hit the rim?  Please let it have hit the rim since it means with just 21 ticks left on the clock Io_a would be forced to foul.  Breathe.  The refs say it did glance off the bottom of the rim.  Yes!

NU can't get the ball in-bounds and needs to take a timeout.  Good heady call.  NU again can't get the ball and is forced to take another timeout.  Good lord we just have one timeout left.  Get the dang ball in-bounds.  Yes NU in-bounds it to Dave Sobolewski and founled immediately.  Please make at least the first one!  First free throw draws lots of iron then falls through the net.  Yes!  OK please make the second one.  Second free throw hangs on the rim before falling back through the cylinder.  YES!  NU up 4 points with just 16 seconds to play.

Io_a's Cartwright slices through NU's defense and scores an easy layup.  OK, that's not the end of the world to be up 2 points with just 11 seconds to play.   Ball safely passed to Johnny Shurna who is fouled immediately.  He just missed a front end, but Johnny is our best player and the guy who coolly knocked down the winning free throws at Penn State.  This is a good thing as he can't miss two straight front ends.  We think.  Clank.  Oh shiiiiit!

Io_a is down two and rushes the ball down the court. WIDE OPEN is Josh Oglesby behind the arc.  Not again!!!!!!!  Yes it's just off to the left!  The ball bounces out of bounds.  Please let it be NU's ball.  It is!!!!!!!!  OK let's not get it to Shurna this time.  Get it to Marcotullio who has been shooting the ball well.  Yes they got it Marco!  Swish.  Yes just one more to ice it with 2 seconds left.  Swish.  YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We sit down and soak in the feeling of joy and relief.  It's on to Indianapolis with the NCAAs still very much in play.  One more win and we like our chances.  But first it's time to party and avoid trouble from Ha_keye fans.  Good news.  It's not homecoming and Ricky Stanzi is nowhere to be seen.  Ahh!!!!!!!!!!

Next up is the game we've all been waiting for.  Beat Minnesota in Indy-town on Thursday at 4:30pm and we're likely dancing!  NU couldn't ask for a better B1G tourney opponent.  Minnesota which NU recently beat and just snapped a six game losing streak by defeating lowly Nebraska at home on Saturday.  It's so close we can taste it now.  LET'S. DO. THIS. THANG!!!!!!!!!!!!