BLOOMINGTON – Indiana followed a potential season-defining victory with its worst performance of the season.
The Hoosiers fell 54-47 to Northwestern on Saturday in front of 17,472 fans in Assembly Hall.
IU’s loss to Northwestern (9-10, 2-4 Big Ten) comes after the Hoosiers (12-6, 2-3) upset No. 3 Wisconsin 75-72 at home last Tuesday and with a rematch against No. 4 Michigan State, which defeated the Hoosiers 73-56 on Jan. 4, coming this Tuesday.
I don’t think it’s a matter of overlooking Northwestern at all, IU coach Tom Crean said. I don’t think it would have mattered who we played coming off the win the other day. We weren’t mature enough to handle a great win and come in here and play the way we needed to play.
The Hoosiers hit only 15 of 60 shots (25 percent) against the Wildcats and went 4 for 18 on 3-pointers. IU’s previous worst shooting performance was going 15 of 41 (36.6 percent) in a 69-52 loss to No. 2 Syracuse on Dec. 3.
Freshman Noah Vonleh was the only IU player to score in double figures, finishing with 17 points to go with his 12 rebounds for his seventh double-double of the season. Vonleh, who is second on the team in scoring with 12.1 points per game, made 5 of 15 shots, including 2 of 4 3-pointers.
Yogi Ferrell, who leads IU with 17.9 points per game, finished with nine points on 2-of-14 shooting, and Will Sheehey, who is third on the team in scoring with 10.9 points per game, had two points on 1-of-7 shooting.
IU’s other starters, Evan Gordon and Troy Williams, combined to go 3 for 13 with Gordon scoring 7 and Williams not scoring.
We didn’t play our best game tonight, and it showed, said Sheehey, who tweaked his left ankle during a hard fall in the second half but said he would be OK.
Northwestern didn’t shoot much better, going 19 for 51 (37.3 percent) and 5 for 16 on 3-pointers. Drew Crawford had 17 points on 7-of-15 shooting and 12 rebounds, and Tre Demps scored 15 on 6-of-12 shooting.
Where we have so far to go is, you can’t be driven by your offense in the sense of when your offense is not there it affects every other part of your game, Crean said. It happened too much.
The difference for Northwestern was that when it needed offense, the Wildcats were able to find it.
After Hanner Mosquera-Perea gave the Hoosiers a 6-5 lead with 9:34 left in the first half, the Wildcats went on a 10-0 run for a 15-6 lead with 6:58 left in the first. Then after IU’s Austin Etherington completed his second three-point play of the first half with 1:11 to go to tie it at 19, Kale Abrahamson knocked down a 3 to give the Wildcats a 22-19 halftime lead.
IU was able to take a 38-35 lead with 7:15 to play on a Gordon 3-pointer and two free throws from Mosquera-Perea, but Demps responded with a 3-pointer then a layup for a 40-38 lead with 4:04 to play. And after the Hoosiers tied the game at 40 with 3:40 to go, Demps scored seven straight points for a 47-40 lead that Northwestern wouldn’t give up for the rest of the game.
They controlled the tempo of the game offensively and defensively, Gordon said.
They clogged the middle offensively on us, and they hit some big shots down the stretch when we had it pretty close. They just kind of dictated the tempo of the game.