Rutgers snapped a seven-game losing streak with a 67-58 overtime victory against Northwestern on Tuesday night at the Rutgers Athletic Center in Piscataway, N.J.
Junior guard Corey Sanders led the way with 30 points for the Scarlet Knights (13-15, 3-12 Big Ten).
Rutgers didn’t take its first lead until sophomore swingman Issa Thaim swished a 3-pointer from the left wing with 2:16 left in overtime. Thaim’s shot triggered a 9-0 run to close out the game.
Senior swingman Scottie Lindsey scored 15 of his team-high 19 points after halftime to lead the Wildcats (15-12, 6-8), who owned a 56-50 lead entering the final minute of regulation. Junior center Dererk Pardon posted his fourth double-double of the year (12 points, 13 rebounds) and added four blocks.
Both teams battled without key contributors. Senior forward Deshawn Freeman dressed and was declared active by the Rutgers coaching staff, but the Scarlet Knights’ No. 2 scorer (11.4 points per game) and top rebounder (7.5 per game) was not in the starting lineup for the first time this season and sat for the entire game.
Northwestern missed senior point guard Bryant McIntosh for the final 16:37 as a right shoulder injury sustained in the first half finally caught up to him. The Wildcats also played without backup point guard Jordan Ash, so they had to resort to Lindsey and others initiating the offense.
The Wildcats and Scarlet Knights were even through the first seven minutes, but Northwestern built a 10-point lead over the next seven minutes. Redshirt sophomore forward Aaron Falzon came off the bench to drill two 3-pointers and tip in a missed layup to give Northwestern a 26-16 lead with 7:16 left in the half.
On the next possession, McIntosh ran into 6-foot-7, 234-pound sophomore forward Eugene Omoruyi on an illegal screen and went to the ground clutching his right shoulder. McIntosh toughed it out for 10 more minutes -- handling and passing the ball almost exclusively with his left hand -- but he hit the bench for good with 16:37 to play.
Northwestern took a 33-24 lead into the break as Pardon stacked up 10 points (on 5-of-5 shooting) with eight rebounds and two blocks.
The Wildcats needed nearly five minutes to earn their first points of the second half, but Rutgers couldn’t get any closer than 33-30. Shortly thereafter, with McIntosh on the bench due to his ailing shoulder, Lindsey buried three 3-pointers to push Northwestern’s lead to 44-33 at the 11:42 mark.
Rutgers gradually crept closer and forced the game’s first tie since 10-10 when Sanders rattled home a 25-footer from above the key with 5.9 seconds left in regulation. Northwestern had a chance to win at the buzzer, but Omoruyi blocked senior forward Gavin Skelly’s layup.
--Field Level Media