Northwestern rallies past Elon 68-67 in OT
EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) After seeing his team mount improbable comebacks at the end of regulation and overtime for a 68-67 victory against Elon on Saturday, Northwestern coach Chris Collins was excited.
He just had a tough time showing it.
''I just have nothing left in the tank,'' Collins said. ''I gave our group everything I have just because I felt no energy today. As a coach when you feel no energy, I'm sweating through my suit, I'm going nuts at halftime and I'm trying to do everything I can to get us to find something.
''I'm really excited. We dug down.''
Tre Demps scored 21 points and hit the game-winning basket for a second straight game and Northwestern overcame an eight-point deficit less than 4 minutes to play in regulation and a five-point deficit with 2 minutes left in overtime.
The Wildcats (4-0 Big Ten) remained unbeaten despite trailing throughout and managing to make only three of 14 3-pointers. Freshman Vic Law also had 16 points for the Wildcats. Demps, the junior guard, also had the game-winning basket Thursday against North Florida.
''I think it's great for us,'' Demps said. ''Obviously in the first 36 minutes of the game we have to do a better job, but we give them all the credit. That team is tough. I've played basketball for a long time and I haven't played against a group of guys, I don't think, that have been just that scrappy, that physical.''
Tanner Samson led Elon (1-2 Colonial Athletic Association) with 24 points on 8-for-18 shooting from 3-point range. Elijah Bryant added 16 points, but was held to two points in the final 5 minutes of regulation and overtime.
''I'm really proud of our effort,'' Phoenix coach Matt Matheny said. ''It was a big step forward for us from the way we played last weekend. I thought we had great stretches of the way we want to play, which is sort of an up-tempo style and an aggressive defensive style.''
Northwestern, with the quick turnaround, looked a bit lethargic throughout.
Elon led practically the entire game and had a 61-53 lead down the stretch but didn't score in the final 3:49 of regulation. The Wildcats tied the score at 61 with 1:03 to play on a layup by guard Bryant McIntosh.
Northwestern had the first possession of the extra session, but failed to grab the lead for the first time since early in the first half. Samson then gave Elon a 64-61 lead with a 3-pointer. The Phoenix took a 67-62 lead with 2 minutes to play and the game - again - appeared over.
But the Wildcats staged another comeback. Sanjay Lumpkin started the rally with a basket and Law cut the deficit to 67-66 with a pair of free throws with 1:38 to play.
Then, following a block by forward Gavin Skelly, Demps hit a 15-footer with 48.1 seconds to go to give Northwestern a 68-67 edge.
Northwestern held on from there.
''I felt like they outplayed us and deserved to win,'' Collins said. ''But credit our guys for digging down and making enough plays to win the game.''
Elon: After going 18-14 last season, including an 11-5 mark in the Southern Conference, the Phoenix moved this season the Colonial Athletic Association.
Northwestern: With the Wildcats struggling offensively, freshman guard Johnnie Vassar made his season debut in the second half. He finished with two points, making his only field-goal attempt, and three fouls. ''I thought Johnnie Vassar's energy woke us up a little bit,'' Collins said.
Elon faces Morgan State in Mexico on Monday in the Cancun Challenge.
Northwestern plays Miami (Ohio) in Mexico on Tuesday in the Cancun Challenge.
LAYING DOWN THE LAW
One of the reasons Elon struggled to score down the stretch of regulation and overtime was because Northwestern shifted freshman 6-7 Vic Law on 6-4 Elijah Bryant.
''I thought that made a big difference in the game,'' Collins said. ''(Bryant) was having his way with his size over our other guards and we went with a bigger guy on, even all the way to the last possession when they isolated him at the elbow. It was essentially a one-on-one with Vic and Vic got a stop.''