Late foul dooms Northwestern against Indiana

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Indiana’s Thomas Bryant hits a shot and is fouled by Northwestern’s Nathan Taphorn during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017, in Bloomington, Ind. Indiana defeated Northwestern 63-62. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings) ORG XMIT: INDC109

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Thomas Bryant completed a three-point play with 2.6 seconds left Saturday night and James Blackmon Jr. finished with 13 points to help Indiana rally from a seven-point deficit in the final 93 seconds to beat Northwestern 63-62.

“If you stay with those things long enough, eventually the bounce is going to go your way,” coach Tom Crean said. “Tonight, the bounce, literally, went our way.”

Bryant McIntosh scored 22 points for Northwestern (20-9, 9-7 Big Ten) but just missed a half-court heave at the buzzer to win it.

Scottie Lindsey finished with 13 points and Derek Pardon had 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Wildcats, who lost their second straight.

“We fought,” coach Chris Collins said after a second straight loss. “It’s just at the end of the day we didn’t finish the game in the last two minutes.”

Northwestern looked like it would cruise when it jumped to a 26-14 lead with 5:29 left in the first half but didn’t score again until McIntosh opened the second half with a layup.

Then it all happened again in the second half.

Lindsey’s jumper gave the Wildcats a 42-41 lead and they led the rest of the game until Bryant’s three-point play.

Just a few weeks ago, the Wildcats looked like a lock to make their first NCAA tournament. But now they’ve lost five of seven and two in a row against teams in the lower half of the conference standings. With two home games remaining, the Wildcats need to get things righted quickly.

The win snapped a five-game losing streak Indiana (16-13, 6-10).

The Hoosiers seemed to take control with a 22-0 run to close the first half — the last coming on Devonte Green’s heave from 60 feet that made it 36-26.

But after retaking the lead with a 17-3 second-half run and taking a 62-55 lead with 1:33 left, Northwestern didn’t score again.

Blackmon’s three-pointer with 38.6 seconds left made it 62-60 and Bryant won it with a fortuitous bounce on the free throw.

“You’ve got to have some reward for the hard stretch we’ve gone through,” coach Crean said. “The reward is resiliency.”

Bryant finished with 11 points and six rebounds.

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