KALAMAZOO, Mich.(AP) Craig Moore scored a season-high 24 points and Northwestern posted its third consecutive win, 65-63 over Western Michigan on Saturday.
Moore scored eight points in the final minute, including a 3-pointer with 56 seconds remaining that gave the Wildcats (4-4) their biggest lead of the game, 58-53. He hit 5-of-6 free throws in the final 17 seconds, including one with three seconds left, to preserve the win.
It was Moore's most productive game since scoring 26 in a 77-75 overtime win over Western Michigan last year.
Western Michigan (4-5) had one last chance to tie or win the game, but a pass by David Kool with 0.3 of a second left sailed out of bounds.
Northwestern overcame a 15-point deficit in defeating the Broncos for the 11th straight time, hitting half its shots (23-of-46) in the second half despite being outrebounded 35-12.
Joe Reitz scored 20 points and had a game-high eight rebounds for Western Michigan, which lost its third straight. Derek Drews and Kool each scored 13.
Moore hit five 3-pointers for Northwestern, which totaled 12 3-point baskets Saturday and 27 in its past two games. Jason Ozresik came off the bench and scored 14 points and had a team-high four rebounds for Northwestern, and Michael Thompson scored 11.
Northwestern, which missed eight of its first 11 shots, trailed 22-7 12 minutes into the game. The Wildcats stormed back with a 21-6 run, tying the score at 28 with 45 seconds left in the first half and taking a 31-30 lead on a 3-pointer by Moore as the buzzer sounded.
Hawkins post game comments
"There were times when we really defended well, and they'd hit a big shot just as the shot clock was about to expire. Every time we answered they answered."
Hawkins wasn't surprised by the threes, as Northwestern made 15 in their last game, which was a school record.
"We did a lot of switching, and it forced them to take a lot of tough shots out on the perimeter. To their credit they were hitting them. Moore and Okrzesik hit some big shots that were well defended."
Western Michigan got out to a big lead early leading at one time 22-7. Hawk spoke about that.
"Offensively we had a lot of shots that didn't drop for us. We had some bunnies inside that didn't fall, and we had some critical missed free throws where we had a chance to put this one away early."
The Broncos had a huge edge in rebounding 35-16, yet had no fastbreak points.
"That's what they do. They are counting on making the shot, and when the shot goes up they have 4 guys sprinting back on defense, they're not even concerning themselves with offensive rebounds, and today that worked for them."
In a close loss, Hawkins felt his team learned something from this game.
"In a one possession game like this one, we can go back and look at the film and learn some things. Even though Joe ended up with a pretty big night, we still could have got him the ball to him more inside on the zone, and we missed him. Execution is critical in a close game, and if we executed better we might have been able to put them away early. This is a very very tough pill to swallow. There's not much you can do about it except go back to work and try to improve."
Northwestern did a great job of taking care of the ball, committing only five turnovers, and adding 16 assits.
"Northwestern knows their system very well," stated Hawk. "They're a veteran team except for Michael Thompson, and even he is very good in their system."
The Broncos had one last chance to tie it on their last possession. Hawkins told what transpired.
"We work on that situation in practice a lot, but it's usually with Mike bringing it up. I pulled Dave over during the free throw to give him some instructions, but without Mike Redell in the game we just didn't have the personnel in who can blow by a defender. They trapped Dave on the inbound, and we just ran out of time in terms of passing the ball up court. Dave will realize after watching film, that in that situation we'd rather Dave put pressure on the trap by pushing the ball. We'd rather take our chances with David at that point than to try and pass out of it."
Joe Reitz led the Broncos with 20 points on 6-8 shooting, along with 8 of 12 from the free throw line. Reitz also collected 8 rebounds.
Dave Kool finished with a flurry of points to garner 13. Derek Drews wen 3-4 from beyond the arch and totalled 13 points.
The Broncos return to action in a week when they play IUPUI, followed by the nationally ranked Salukies of Southern Illinois. Broncoblitz will be there and will keep you up on what happened.
NORTHWESTERN 65, WESTERN MICHIGAN 63
Moore, Craig 7-15 5-6 24; Okrzesik, Jason 4-7 2-2 14; Thompson, Michael 5-7
0-1 11; Ryan, Jeff 3-7 0-0 6; Baran, Nikola 2-6 0-0 5; Capocci, Mike 1-1 0-0
3; Williams, Sterling 1-3 0-0 2; Melchior, Jean-Marc 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-46
WESTERN MICHIGAN (4-5)
REITZ, Joe 6-8 8-12 20; DREWS, Derek 5-7 0-0 13; KOOL, David 4-8 2-2 13;
GARY, Shawntes 2-5 0-0 6; FRACALOSSI, Derek 2-4 0-0 5; LAWSON, Donald 1-3
0-0 2; McLEMORE, Martelle 1-3 0-0 2; REDELL, Michael 0-2 2-2 2; RICKS, Andre
0-3 0-0 0; HERSHBERGER, Andrew 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 21-44 12-16 63.
Northwestern.................. 31 34 - 65
Western Michigan.............. 30 33 - 63