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Wisconsin escapes Evanston with 69-64 win over Northwestern

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A close win against a desperate Wildcats squad.

NCAA Basketball: Wisconsin at Northwestern Nuccio DiNuzzo-USA TODAY Sports

Inside Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston, Ill., on Saturday night, the Wisconsin Badgers tamed a feisty Northwestern Wildcats squad in a 69-64 win.

A back-and-forth matchup that featured 14 lead changes, 13 ties and a one-possession contest for much of the final 5:30, Wisconsin (19-8, 11-5 Big Ten) ultimately pulled off the regular season sweep against Chris Collins’ squad.

Sophomore guard Brad Davison scored 10 of his team-high 16 points in the second half while also grabbing six rebounds and dishing out three assists. Eight of those points came in the final 10:41 of the game.

Redshirt senior forward Ethan Happ returned to form with another double-double (14 points, 10 rebounds) and added three assists and two blocks in the win.

Four Badgers overall scored in double figures. Redshirt sophomore guard D’Mitrik Trice scored 14 points on 5-of-13 shooting (4-of-9 from three-point range) that was aided by a strong first half. Senior forward Khalil Iverson again shined on Saturday night, contributing 11 points and five rebounds.

Vic Law and Dererk Pardon carried Northwestern (12-15, 3-13) to nearly upsetting Wisconsin, combining for 45 of the team’s 64 points. Law found a hot hand, scoring a game-high 24 points on 8-of-16 shooting (4-of-6 from deep) while also recording four rebounds and six assists. Pardon became a force inside with 21 points on nine of 12 attempts from the field.

UW shot 45.5 percent from the field for the game—including a strong 52 percent in the final 20 minutes to allow Greg Gard’s team to head back across state borders with another win. The Badgers contained the Wildcats to just 40.7 percent (24-of-59) shooting overall, just 28.6 percent (six of 21) from deep.

Wisconsin went into halftime trailing 32-31, however, but the game’s first 20 minutes saw eight ties and seven lead changes. Trice scored 11 points, including making three of six three-point attempts.

Badgers shot 40 percent from the field and from three-point range), while the Wildcats connected on 38.2 percent of their attempts (25 percent from three). Despite shooting better than Northwestern, Wisconsin committed six turnovers—three credited to Happ.

The second half stayed close, but Wisconsin regained the advantage early on with Northwestern fighting back. The Wildcats took a 38-37 lead after a Pardon dunk, but Aleem Ford connected on the first of his two three-pointers to give UW a two-point advantage at the 14:45 mark.

Again, Northwestern fought back and tied the game after a Turner layup with 12:15 remaining. However, Ford answered on Wisconsin’s behalf with his second three to give the team a 45-42 advantage.

UW extended that lead to as much as seven points after Happ—who scored nine of his 14 in the second half—connected on a shot with 7:53 remaining.

Then Law took over in scoring 11 straight points for Northwestern. His three-pointer with just over five minutes remaining gave the Wildcats a 57-55 lead off of his 11-2 run.

Wisconsin regrouped and saw big time contributions from Iverson late. In the final five minutes, the senior connected on two huge “and one” opportunities—including hitting the subsequent free throws—at the 4:47 and 2:57 marks to help give Wisconsin the lead once again. His second one made it a 63-60 contest with under three minutes to play.

The Wildcats pulled within one point a couple times in the final 2:28, but the Badgers again answered in those instances. A Pardon layup was followed by a Davison bucket—one that received several fortunate bounces before going into the net—just 32 seconds later on UW’s next possession.

In the closing minute, Law hit two free throws with about 15 seconds left to make it 65-64. Davison was fouled and went to the line again, and in a clutch moment, connected on both attempts to extend the lead again to three.

The Maple Grove, Minn., native made five of six from the line on the evening, while the team as a whole hit 75 percent (12 of 16) of their shots from the line.

After a Northwestern timeout called with about four seconds remaining in the contest, Falzon missed a three-pointer in the Wildcats’ last possession. Sophomore forward Nate Reuvers (six points, nine rebounds) grabbed his ninth board of the game thereafter, then made both of his free throws to cap the win.