WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Northwestern Wildcats continued their best season in school history on Friday evening, topping the Maryland Terrapins to earn a spot in the Big-10 conference championship semi-final game on Saturday afternoon at the Verizon Center in the nation’s capital.
The Wildcats (23-10, 10-8) overcame an early 7-2 deficit to the Terrapins (24-8, 12-6) on the strength of a trio of three point field goals by Bryant McIntosh, Nathan Taphorn, and Vic Law. Northwestern’s leading scorer, Scottie Lindsey was held scoreless by Maryland for the first nine minutes of Friday evening’s game, but would score seven of his 17 points as the Wildcats enjoyed a 20-4 run over Maryland midway through the first half.
Maryland would eventually take a 38-36 lead into the half despite the Wildcats shooting 52 percent in the first half, and out-rebounding the Terrapins 16-11.
The Second half was tight until the two schools were tied at 46 with 12 minutes to go, and Vic Law drove through the lane to give the Wildcats the lead at 48-46. Northwestern would not relinquish the lead again on Friday night after that basket by Law, and eventually defeated Maryland 72-64, earning their first ever appearance in the Big-10 conference championship semi-final game.
Vic Law led the way in scoring for Northwestern, recording 17 points in 25 minutes and shooting a red-hot 71 percent from the field, while Scottie Lindsey also scored 17 points on the evening during his 31 minutes, despite being held scoreless for the first nine minutes. The Wildcats out-rebounded Maryland 32-24, and have shot a combined 64 percent from the field in the second half of their two Big-10 tournament victories thus far.
In a year highlighted by bests and firsts for the Wildcats, Northwestern earned their first victory over Maryland in Big-10 competition, their school best 23rd victory of the season, and their first trip to the Big-10 tournament’s final four in school history.
The Wildcats will take on the second seeded Wisconsin Badgers this afternoon for a chance to play in the school’s first ever Big-10 Tournament Championship game. The last time the two schools met nearly one month ago to the day on February 12 in Madison, the Wildcats knocked off the then seventh ranked Badgers 66-59 in arguably their biggest regular season victory of the season.
The Wildcats are getting hot again at the right time, with the opportunity to have one of the biggest weekends in the program’s history this weekend, with the potential of their first ever conference tournament championship, and their first ever NCAA Tournament berth taking place on Sunday if the Cats’ can take care of business today against Wisconsin. The Wildcats knocked off Wisconsin last month, without leading scorer Scottie Lindsey, who missed the game due to illness. Lindsey will lead Northwestern this afternoon, coming off of back-to-back 15 plus point performances in the Wildcats first two Big-10 tournament wins over Rutgers and Maryland.