Coming off a win against New Orleans, the Northwestern Wildcats were confident in themselves against a struggling Virginia Tech team who has disappointed many with their poor start to the season. Tonight, it was a wild matchup, but with impressive shooting, NW pushed their way by the Hokies 81-79 in an extra session.
The Wildcats came out shooting hot out of the gate as Bryant McIntosh and Tre Demps were hitting their shots early. Northwestern hit six threes in the first half as the team continued to shoot well from deep. That was something to look for moving on. The Hokies, who shot 42.9% from deep in this game, kept it close with Northwestern as they looked for their first big win of the season. Northwestern looked like the bigger and better team in the first half, though, as the guards for Northwestern had their way on offense. The half ended with a buzzer beater three by center Alex Olah for Northwestern, and it looked like it could turn into a blowout as the Wildcats took a 45-36 lead into halftime.
The Hokies were led by Seth Allen who had 25 points and shot 4 of 8 from three point land. With Allen leading the way, Virginia Tech made it a game in the second half. Every time Northwestern keep trying to pull away, the Hokies came right back. It was a close game as Allen hit two free throws with 55.5 seconds left in the second half to tie the game. Both teams had chances to win the game in the last minute, but two missed chances by Northwestern and a heave by Allen from almost 3/4 of the court away ranged off the iron as the game went into overtime.
Tech came out in overtime scoring the first four and it looked like they may pull away after coming back in the second half. But a three by Sanjay Lumpkin in the corner got the Wildcats started. The teams continued to battle back and forth, and it came down to Bryant McIntosh with the ball in his hands with less than 30 seconds left in the game. After getting by his defender, McIntosh was able to get to the left side and hit the layup to give Northwestern the 81-79 lead. VT's Allen then lost the ball on the inbounds play, and a desperation shot by Chris Clarke clanked off the side of the rim as Northwestern took the win.
It was a solid victory for Northwestern and the Big Ten as the conference took their 3rd win in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. With only DePaul as their only remaining opponent from a big name conference, Northwestern should finish this non conference schedule with only one loss, and that was to North Carolina. Losing to Carolina is obviously no big deal as the Tar Heels are one of the top teams in the country. Things are looking up for the Wildcats.
Virginia Tech will get an easier test on Saturday against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, while Northwestern battles Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on the same day.