It was the last game of the year at Assembly Hall.
Potentially Tom Crean’s last game coaching at Assembly Hall.
And it was Collin Hartman’s Senior Night.
Indiana, losers of their last five and desperate for a late-season victory despite being out of tournament contention, faced off against Northwestern, who have struggled after beating Wisconsin earlier this month and were looking for one more solid victory to put them through into the tournament field. Something wild was bound to happen, and it did.
Let’s recap the craziness.
Northwestern started out by dunking all over IU.
Most of the first half was the typical frustrating IU basketball we’ve become accustomed to. Lots of turnovers and sloppy play led to easy Northwestern points and plenty of dunks for the Wildcats. All of the sudden it was 26-14 and Medill alums were getting cocky.
State of Indiana basketball: Getting repeatedly dunked on by Northwestern— Rodger Sherman (@rodger_sherman) February 26, 2017
State of Northwestern basketball: Repeatedly dunking on Indiana— Rodger Sherman (@rodger_sherman) February 26, 2017
Then the Hoosiers went on a 22-0 run.
But Indiana ended the half at a scorching pace, scoring 22 points in the final 5:30, and taking a 36-26 lead into halftime.
Which ended with a 3/4-court heave from Devonte Green at the close of the first half.
In fact, this wasn’t even the first buzzer-beating heave of the season for Green.
Northwestern rallied back in the second half though with a 19-2 run of their own.
Oh, you thought the IU lead would be safe after all of this, huh? Not so fast. After the Hoosiers took a 40-32 lead, Northwestern scored 19 of the next 21 points. Suddenly, the Wildcats were up by 7 again as the clock turned to less than 10 minutes left in the second half.
The score seemed stuck on 54-48 forever.
Scottie Lindsey hit a jumper to put Northwestern ahead 54-48 with 7:18 left in the game. The next point wasn’t scored until a Dererk Pardon free throw with 5:08 remaining. The next bucket didn’t come until JBJ scored with 4:40 left. At such a crucial point in the game, this was a long time to go without any points being scored.
Tim Priller came into the game. During crunch time.
Tim Priller, the seldom-used reserve and fan favorite, entered the game with 5 minutes remaining and stayed in until the under-4 media timeout. Why? Who knows. Priller didn’t make too huge of an impact either way, but the fact that he was out there this late in the game either means that Tom Crean was desperate, or he has a good sense of humor.
Bryant McIntosh hit a bank shot three to put the game away... or so we thought.
Did you know Bryant McIntosh is an Indiana native who wasn’t actively pursued by IU? It’s amazing the media hasn’t picked up on this story! The Northwestern junior point guard had 22 points on the night, and none were bigger than his three-point bank shot to put the Wildcats up 61-53 with 3:11 to go.
Fans began to leave the Hall.
With Northwestern up 61-55 and heading to the free throw line, some Hoosier fans had had enough.
And the mass exodus of fans at Assembly Hall begins with 1:33 left in the game and the Hoosiers trailing by 6...— Tricia Whitaker (@TriciaWhitaker) February 26, 2017
6 point ball game with 1:33 left. Fans filing out of Assembly Hall...— Meghan McKeown (@Meghan_WISH8) February 26, 2017
Then the Hoosiers rallied, and Thomas Bryant closed it out with an and-one dunk.
Down 7 with only 80 seconds left, IU went on a frantic final run that I hadn’t really seen from the team since the 2015 Crossroads win over Notre Dame. A Rojo layup and a JBJ three cut the lead to two, and after McIntosh missed a floater with 9 seconds remaining, the Hoosiers raced down court, and Blackmon found Bryant under the rim for the dunk, and Scottie Lindsey’s foul sent him to the line for the win.
And even the foul shot was dramatic - the ball bounced way up in the air off the rim, but luckily came down good to give Indiana a one-point lead.
Northwestern had one more chance and it came dangerously close
McIntosh let it fly from halfcourt with one second remaining, and the ball almost went in, but it was just a little to the left, and the Hoosiers escaped with a victory in their final home game of the season.