CHICAGO — Illinois edged Northwestern, 74-69, in overtime, in the first round of the 2019 Big Ten Tournament on Wednesday.
“I’m proud of my seniors,” said Sullivan-Ubben Head Men’s Basketball Coach Chris Collins. “I’ve talked about their legacy many times with [Dererk] Pardon and [Vic] Law and what those guys meant for our program. They did a lot of things that people thought, quite frankly, could never be done at Northwestern.”
Redshirt junior A.J. Turner led the Wildcats in scoring, finishing with 20. The contest was his fourth-straight in double-figures for NU. He drained three three-pointers and added four rebounds and five assists.
Senior Dererk Pardon added 17 points, including a perfect four-for-four mark from the charity stripe. First-year Miller Kopp and sophomore Aaron Falzon both finished with 11 points.
The Wildcats took 36 three-pointers, their most this season (surpassing 34 attempts vs. Chicago State on Dec. 17). The mark was the most-ever in a Big Ten Tournament game, surpassing 32 attempts by Indiana against the ‘Cats on March 12, 2015.
The two squads traded blows early in a low-scoring affair. A three-point jumper with just under 12 minutes left in the first half by Falzon evened the score at nine points apiece.
The game continued to be close as the first half progressed. At 2:54, Turner made a tough running layup to bring the ‘Cats to within one point, trailing the Fighting Illini, 26-25.
Illinois led going into halftime by a tally of 30-27. Kopp led NU with nine points at the break with four-of-seven shooting in 17 minutes of play.
Northwestern came strong out of the gate, taking a lead over the Fighting Illini as a Kopp layup made it 43-41 with 15:21 lead. Both squads’ offenses went cold later in the second and the score sat at 54-53, Illinois lead, with just under four minutes to play.
A close end of the contest brought the score to 61 points apiece. Turner was exceptional in the second half, scoring 16 points, including three three-pointers.
NU came out strong in overtime, but Illinois made some opportune three-pointers to win, 74-69.
Senior forward Vic Law missed the contest with a lower-body injury.
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