2014 was not a great year for the five Division I schools in the Chicago area. Three of them finished last in their respective leagues in the 2013-14 season, and Northwestern also finished near the bottom of the Big Ten.
But between the second half of that season and the first half of the 2014-15 season, there were several special moments. Here are the top 10:
10. DePaul survives UIC on late 3-pointer, 72-71 (Nov. 14)
In the 2014-15 season opener, DePaul jumped out to a 21-point lead on UIC in the first half. UIC chipped away and fought back, and sophomore Markese McGuire put the Flames ahead for the first time, 71-69, with a jumper in the final minute.
DePaul sophomore Billy Garrett Jr. responded with a huge 3-pointer from the left wing that would become the game-winner. UIC junior D’Juan Miller got a look at a game-winning triple for the Flames but could not connect.
Garrett’s game-winning shot was the second of his career. He also beat Northwestern at the buzzer in December 2013.
9. Loyola blows out Missouri State in first MVC game at Gentile Arena (Jan. 5)
With the temperature outside dropping rapidly and the Polar Vortex approaching, the atmosphere for Loyola’s first-ever MVC home opener was underwhelming, even for what was 5-8 team. Only 1,024 were in attendance.
But the few who were there saw quite a show. Loyola obliterated Missouri State, 89-57. The Ramblers shot 68% in the second half as guard Devon Turk posted a career-high 30 points off the bench.
Loyola did not win many games in the 2013-14 season, but this victory left a mark.
8. Northwestern shuts down Illinois bring Chris Collins his first Big Ten win (Jan. 12)
Northwestern looked headed for a long and dreadful Big Ten season after losing each of its first three Big Ten games by at least 23 points. With No. 23 Illinois coming to town, coach Chris Collins decided to change the team’s style of play to a slow, defensive-minded system.
Northwestern outscored Illinois 22-15 in the first half, and clutch play from Tre Demps, JerShon Cobb and Drew Crawford allowed the Wildcats to escape with a 49-43 victory, Collins’ first in the Big Ten.
After Illinois tied the game at 34, Demps drained three straight 3-pointers and then found Cobb for a layup. Crawford salted the game away with 4-for-4 free throw shooting in the final seconds.
7. Chicago State upsets WAC favorite New Mexico State, 86-81 (Jan. 16)
Chicago State exceeded expectations in its first WAC season with a fourth-place finish. One of the highlights for the Cougars was a win against New Mexico State, which was the favorite to win the league and wound up earning the automatic NCAA Tournament berth.
The Cougars were fortunate that 7-foot-5 center Sim Bhullar was out with a foot injury. But even without their mammoth big man, the Aggies still had quite a talented bunch.
Five Chicago State players scored in double figures, led by Clarke Rosenberg‘s 20 points and Quinton Pippen‘s 19. Pippen drilled a huge 3-pointer late in the game to bump Chicago State’s lead to four points, and Rosenberg made a dunk and two free throws in the final minute.
An emotional Tracy Dildy addressed media after the game:
6. Loyola wins Las Vegas Classic (Dec. 22-23)
Loyola went to Vegas trying to make a statement before its second MVC season began, and the Ramblers succeeded. They upset Texas Tech and Boise State on back-to-back nights to take home the Las Vegas Classic title and earn a bit of national attention.
Loyola makes the defensive stand and pulls off the upset for the second straight night, 48-45!
— The Catch and Shoot (@Catch_N_Shoot) December 24, 2014
Porter Moser mourned the lose of his mom yesterday then coached a perfect game to win Las Vegas Classic 48-45 over BSU. Ramblers legit 10-2.
— Mark Adams (@EnthusiAdams) December 24, 2014
Great win last night for @LoyolaRamblers over a very good Boise State team. Ramblers one of nice stories of first half of season
— Angela Lento (@collegeinsider) December 24, 2014
LOYOLA!! WHAT A GAME! Loyola (IL) defeats Boise State 48-45 to win the #LasVegasClassic
— FOX Sports 1 (@FOXSports1) December 24, 2014
Freshman forward Jay Knuth turned in 15 points and six rebounds, both career-highs, against Texas Tech to get Loyola to the title game. Then senior forward Christian Thomas outplayed Boise State’s taller front line for 17 points on 7-for-10 shooting to bring the trophy to Chicago.
Click here for video highlights of Loyola’s victory against Boise State.
5. Northwestern upsets Iowa at the Big Ten tournament (March 13)
Pitted against an Iowa team that won each regular-season matchup by 26 points, Northwestern seemed fated for an early exit at the 2014 Big Ten Tournament.
After facing a seven-point deficit in the first half, the Wildcats found themselves taking the lead on the second half’s first possession as Demps nailed a triple. Northwestern never relinquished that lead and advanced to a quarterfinal date with Michigan State.
The Wildcats held the Hawkeyes, one of the nation’s top offenses, to 1.05 points per possession.
4. DePaul upsets Georgetown at the Garden (March 12)
Making his first Big East Tournament appearance, Garrett was a star who showed great poise for a freshman as DePaul upset Georgetown to reach the quarterfinals. Garrett scored five points in the first three minutes to counteract Georgetown’s strong start, and he carried the Blue Demons late in the second half as they pulled away for the 60-56 win.
DePaul opened up a 55-47 lead in the final three minutes, but came very close to blowing this huge win. Georgetown guard Jabril Trawick‘s layup cut the Blue Demons’ lead to two points with eight seconds left. But Garrett then made a pair of free throws to seal it for DePaul.
The 2013-14 season was another disappointing one for DePaul with just 3-15 Big East record, but this tournament victory helped alleviate some of that.
3. DePaul records best win of Oliver Purnell era with upset of Stanford (Nov. 30)
On the way to its best start in more than 20 seasons, DePaul faced a tough task with Stanford coming to Allstate Arena. The Cardinal were coming off a Sweet 16 appearance in last year’s NCAA Tournament. The Blue Demons were a heavy underdog, but they played like the better team for 40 minutes against the Cardinal and won 87-72.
Junior forward Myke Henry posted a career-high 29 points and senior Jamee Crockett added 19.
DePaul’s once-18-point lead was in jeopardy in the second half as Stanford cut its deficit to 60-55 with 8:55 remaining. But the Blue Demons responded with a lift from the bench as guard Aaron Simpson drained his third 3-pointer to swing momentum back to his team.
2. Loyola wins inaugural Arch Madness game on Milton Doyle buzzer-beater (March 6)
It appeared Loyola’s first Arch Madness would end very similarly to several games from its first season in the MVC — by blowing a second-half lead. The Ramblers led by as many as 11 points in the second half and by five points in the final two minutes.
Then Bradley seniors Walt Lemon and Tyshon Pickett made a move to extend their season one more day. They put together an 8-2 run to take a 72-71 lead with 4.8 remaining.
Loyola had to go the length of the floor, needing a bucket to avoid a defeat. Then this happened:
Here’s one more angle:
Milton Doyle was already making his mark as a Loyola great by winning MVC Newcomer and Freshman of the Year earlier that week. This moment just added to that young résumé.
Doyle finished with 19 points in the win against Bradley, but the buzzer-beater was his only made 3-pointer.
1. Drew Crawford lights up the Kohl Center as Northwestern upsets Wisconsin (Jan. 29)
In one of the Big Ten’s biggest upsets of the 2013-14 season, Northwestern went to the Kohl Center and shut down Wisconsin. The Wildcats’ 65-56 victory was their first at Wisconsin since 1996.
The Wildcats went toe to toe with the Badgers for the first 29 minutes and trailed 35-34. Then Northwestern’s offense came alive as their defense continued to give Wisconsin trouble. The Wildcats went on a 20-4 extended run over the eight minutes to take a 54-39 advantage.
Crawford played the best game of his season, posting 30 points on 10-for-15 shooting. 20 of those points came in the second half.
Northwestern also held Wisconsin to 15-for-57 (26.3%) shooting from the field.
Happy New Year from The Catch and Shoot!