ANN ARBOR, Mich. – For a second straight game, Northwestern fell agonizingly short of a crucial Big Ten victory.
With the Wildcats trailing by three, Alex Marcotullio was fouled while shooting a 3-pointer with 0.3 seconds remaining, but he missed the first of three free throws and No. 13 Michigan held on for a 66-64 overtime win Wednesday night. Northwestern is trying to make the NCAA tournament for the first time, but the Wildcats lost by a point to Illinois last week and couldn't hold onto a 10-point second-half lead against the Wolverines.
It's close calls like these that could come back to haunt Northwestern down the road.
"Losses like this hurt," forward Drew Crawford said. "We knew these were big games, and we know we could have won both of them, but we didn't get either of them."
Freshman Trey Burke scored 19 points — including Michigan's last eight of overtime. Tim Hardaway Jr. added 19 as well, although it was his foul that put Marcotullio on the line.
Marcotullio hadn't attempted a shot all night and had only six free throw tries on the season. After missing the first, he made the second and had to intentionally miss the third. The Wildcats were unable to tip in the rebound.
John Shurna had 21 points for Northwestern and Crawford added 20.
"This is really tough, especially after Illinois," Crawford said. "Everyone in our locker room is thinking about one or two things they could have done differently that would have won this game. You can't help that."
After Burke's basket put the Wolverines ahead 60-58, officials called a contact technical foul on Michigan's Jordan Morgan with 2:11 remaining. But Northwestern couldn't take advantage. Crawford made only one of two free throws, and a miss by Dave Sobolewski gave the Wolverines the ball back.
The Wildcats had trouble rebounding all night. After a miss by Michigan's Stu Douglass, the ball went out of bounds back to the Wolverines. Burke made two free throws, then Sobolewski made two of his own with 57.9 seconds remaining.
With Northwestern in a 1-3-1 zone, Hardaway missed from the left wing, but the Wildcats again couldn't control the rebound, knocking it out of bounds with 37.3 seconds to play. Burke, a freshman, made two free throws, and Crawford dunked to cut the margin to one again.
Burke's two free throws with 6.5 seconds left made it 66-63. Hardaway then fouled Marcotullio in the right corner, but the Northwestern junior — who had attempted only six free throws all season before Wednesday night — couldn't tie it.
"He had a wide-open shot and I was probably too eager," Hardaway said. "I need to be able to get over on a play like that and contest the shot without giving up a foul."
Down 44-36 in the second half, Michigan went on a 10-0 run to take the lead. Hardaway, Morgan and Burke made baskets to start the rally, then Novak tied it with a layup and put the Wolverines ahead with a dunk. Northwestern coach Bill Carmody called three timeouts in a span of 1:43 to try to stop the run. After the last one, his team committed a shot clock violation, prompting a media timeout.
"I just wanted to stop the noise," Carmody said. "I didn't have anything special to say — I'm not the kind of guy that gives big motivational speeches. Just wanted to get things stopped."
The Wildcats eventually gathered themselves, scoring six straight points to take a 50-46 advantage.
Hardaway tied it at 54 on a 3-pointer with 2:40 remaining, and neither team scored for the rest of regulation. Northwestern called a timeout with 23.5 seconds remaining and 16 on the shot clock. Hardaway was called for a non-shooting foul with 10.1 seconds left — a call that had Michigan coach John Beilein several feet out on the floor to complain.
Now able to hold for the final shot, Crawford drove toward the basket and was called for traveling. With 1.5 seconds to play, Michigan called a timeout, but Hardaway wasn't able to come up with Novak's long pass and the game went to overtime.
"There were so many plays where we could have won, but we turned the ball over too many times," Carmody said. "We should have had a bigger lead in the first half, but had too many turnovers. A lot of them were plays where we had layups and the ball just goes off our hands."