Northwestern Continues Hot Streak With Thrilling Win at Minnesota

Tre Demps continued his clutch play Saturday with a game-winning three-pointer against Minnesota. (Photo: Northwestern Athletics)
Tre Demps continued his clutch play Saturday with a game-winning three-pointer against Minnesota. (Photo: Northwestern Athletics)

Northwestern (12-11, 5-5 Big Ten) continued its remarkable turnaround Saturday with a 55-54 victory at Minnesota (15-7, 4-5).

The Wildcats have won three straight road games, their longest such streak since 1959-60 according to ESPN Stats and Info. Overall, they have won four of their last five games.

“After the third league game, our guys came together and said they wanted to make something of this season,” Northwestern head coach Chris Collins said. “We rallied around each other and made a commitment to defense. In the heat of the battle, it is hard to think long term about what these wins means.”

With this victory, Northwestern moved into fourth place in the Big Ten.

The Wildcats jumped out to an early, 21-11 lead by the 10:12 mark of the first half. Junior guard JerShon Cobb was on fire with 11 of those points, and senior Drew Crawford and sophomore Kale Abrahamson each knocked down three-pointers.

Minnesota torched Northwestern with a 16-2 run to take a 27-23 lead. But Crawford and Abrahamson responded with a 9-2 run on their own to put the Wildcats up, 32-29, at halftime.

The entire second half was played within a six-point window, as neither team took a lead larger than three points.

Minnesota senior Malik Smith tied the game at 52-52 on a jumper with 1:38 left.

Northwestern sophomore Tre Demps displayed his clutch gene once again with a three-pointer at the 54-second mark, which would prove to be the game-winner.

Minnesota junior Deandre Mathieu converted a layup to bring the Golden Gophers within one point, and Minnesota stopped Northwestern on the ensuing possession to get the ball back with 12 seconds remaining.

Mathieu and junior forward Maurice Walker got a pair of looks at the rim, but neither shot fell through the net. Minnesota head coach Richard Pitino wanted a foul, but the referees did not blow their whistles.

“I get bumped a lot during games, and I’m pretty used to them not calling it,” Mathieu said. “I just missed a layup.”

Mathieu finished with nine points and five assists while Walker scored a team-high 14 points off the bench.

Senior guard Austin Hollins led Minnesota’s starters with 13 points and six rebounds.

The timing of this matchup was fortunate for Northwestern as Minnesota was without leading scorer Andre Hollins. Hollins suffered an ankle injury and also missed the Golden Gophers’ previous game against Nebraska.

“Of course he’s a big part of this team, but we can’t blame any loss on Dre’s absence,” Austin Hollins said. “It’s a team sport. We’ve got to defend.”

Collins admitted Northwestern “got a bit of a break” with Andre Hollins’ absence.

Crawford led Northwestern with 17 points while Cobb recorded 15.

Demps registered 11 points off the bench, nine of which came in the second half.

Northwestern returns home on Feb. 8 to face Nebraska in their first meeting of the season.

Author: Jesse Kramer

Jesse Kramer is the founder of The Catch and Shoot. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. He has had work featured on SI.com, College Insider, The Comeback/Awful Announcing, and 247Sports.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: