94% FT Shooting Gases Gophers: NU 57 Minn 53

The Northwestern Wildcats used 15 of 16 Freethrow shooting and some timely baskets to defeat the Minnesota Golden Gophers for the 2nd time this season. The win left the Cats firmly in 9th place in the Big 10, and sets up a 3rd game with Penn State on Thursday morning in the conference tournament.

It was Senior Night in Evanston
and Northwestern Wildcat Seniors Evan Seacat, Vedran Vukusic, Mohamed Hachad, Michael Jenkins and Justin Hoeveler along with senior Ivan Tolic [who missed this season with an injury] were all playing their final game at Welsh-Ryan.

For a while, it seemed like the Cats [13-13, 6-10] were going to lose another close game, as Minnesota [14-13, 5-11] just wouldn't go away, then came back from 10 down to tie the Cats 51-51 with 3:27. Vedran Vukusic's layup at 2:57, followed by a layup by Doyle put the Cats ahead by just 2 points, 55-53 with 1:20 left.

It was shades of Wednesday's game, but this time the NU defense held the Gopher's scoreless as a Vincent Grier Jumper and a Dan Coleman 3 pointer both missed.

But it was Tim Doyle's two free throws with 5 seconds left, that put the Cats up for good. Doyle was 4 for 4 from the line Saturday.
It made the difference, and Mohamed knocked down 4 of 4 earlier which is a rare occurance [Hachad finished 5 of 6 from the line] so, in all games you play in this conference it seems are close so foul shooting's so important.
Vukusic finished the game with 20 points, moving to fourth on the Wildcats all time scoring list. He was 6 of 6 from the line and also finished with 4 assists and a block. Tim Doyle had 12 points, including 4 of 4 from the line, 5 rebounds and 2 assists.

Mohamed Hachad scored 11, including 5 of 6 from the line. He also led NU with 6 rebounds, and had 2 of NU's 4 steals. Craig Moore finished with 9 points on 3 of 8 3 point shooting, Evan Seacat had another trey, and Bernard Cote scored 2. Minnesota's Jamal Abu-Shamala led the Gophers with 15.

Tonight's game, with 15 of 16 foul shooting was a marked change from the past few games, where NU didn't get to the line much. Coach Bill Carmody was asked if he had an explanation.
I don't know, were we getting the ball inside a little bit? I don't even know to tell you the truth, I think we hung around the backboards, we didn't get destroyed [in rebounds] did we? [NU had 27 rebounds, Minny 33]

That was good for us, so, we were a little more physical than we usually were.
Bob Hildebrand noted that the Cats seemed tougher off the boards the last few games...
You know against Ohio State Mohamed had 10 or 11 rebounds, Vedran had 9 and in the first half it seemed like Mohamed was the only guy getting involved - he had 4 or 5 rebounds, but he was tipping balls and Vedran did the same so.

I like the way we're playing . We're just off a little bit because we're not getting any production out of that Center spot and you could see they just had the center under the basket and it takes away a lot of your cuts , so we're going to have to get those guys, Vince and Bernard some confidence in the next four days going into Indianapolis.
The Cats have struggled against the 2-3 zone all season, but tonight, it seemed that NU got some plays inside along with some decent looks outside.
We struggled in that first half it seemed like to me too, but that's not their normal defense but they saw us against Penn State and so we were sort of prepared for it.

I thought Vedran made some wonderful passes in the first half - we didn't finish them off, but that's not their primary defense and the high post seemed like it was open a lot and, ya gotta knock down shots and Moore "banged" a couple.
So the Seniors head to Indianapolis with a win,
Yeah, its great, I thought Vedran sort of carried us in the first half, and its been a group that just stuck with it through good and bad times so I'm with you , I'm just really happy for them.
Next up is Penn State as the Wildcats head into the Big 10 Tournament at .500, and looking for a chance to win a couple more games to cap the 2005-06 season.

Given that its an old saying that its hard to beat a Big 10 team 3 times in a season, what do the Cats have to do to beat the Lions?
First off, I'd rather be the guy that won the first two - that adage stuff, I don't know - they out rebounded us, and they're going to play a 2-3 zone, and they're going to play - its not dissimilar to the way we play.

They take care of the ball pretty decently, have two or three pretty good shooters and inside they're real strong and guys finish things. Minnesota had a little problem finishing things off inside today.

Bill Carmody's Post Game comments [in italics] are taken from the WGN Post Game Show with Dave Eanet & Bob Hildebrand and may have been edited for clarity.
Official Statistics from nusports.com

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Story (c) 2006 by PurpleWildcats.com/Purple Reign
Interview comments (c) 2006 by  WGN Radio

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