Sports

Georgia Tech hangs on for 66-58 win over Northwestern despite nearly losing 18-point lead

  • Northwestern center Alex Olah, left, drives against Georgia Tech center Demarco Cox (4) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Evanston, Ill., on Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

    Northwestern center Alex Olah, left, drives against Georgia Tech center Demarco Cox (4) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Evanston, Ill., on Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)  (The Associated Press)

  • Georgia Tech head coach Brian Gregory, right, and assistant coach Tom Herrion yell to their team during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Northwestern in Evanston, Ill., on Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

    Georgia Tech head coach Brian Gregory, right, and assistant coach Tom Herrion yell to their team during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Northwestern in Evanston, Ill., on Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)  (The Associated Press)

  • Northwestern center Alex Olah (22) and Georgia Tech center Demarco Cox (4) battle for a rebound during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Evanston, Ill., on Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

    Northwestern center Alex Olah (22) and Georgia Tech center Demarco Cox (4) battle for a rebound during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Evanston, Ill., on Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)  (The Associated Press)

Josh Heath had 12 points on 6-for-6 shooting, including two clutch baskets in the final 2:30, and Georgia Tech withstood a late Northwestern charge to hang on for a 66-58 victory in an ACC/Big Ten Challenge game on Wednesday night.

Charles Mitchell had a team-high 13 points and Robert Sampson added 11 points as the Yellow Jackets (6-1) won its third straight.

Alex Olah led Northwestern with 19 points and 10 rebounds and Tre Demps added 14 points. The Wildcats (5-2) trailed by as much as 18 points and were down 12 with six minutes left before rallying to pull within a point with a little more than a minute to go.

NU had rallied from late deficits for wins in the previous two home games against Elon and North Florida, but couldn't make it three in a row.

Georgia Tech quickly took command with a run of 18 straight points for a 20-2 advantage less than seven minutes into the game. Northwestern was scoreless for 6:02, going 0 for 8 with four turnovers during that stretch.

Olah finally ended the drought with a putback of a McIntosh miss with 13:01 left in the first half. Although the Wildcats closed the gap to nine points on two occasions, they never could get anything going consistently on the offensive end.

The Yellow Jackets had a 31-18 halftime lead. The 18 points were a season-low in a half for Northwestern. The previous low was 20 against Northern Iowa.

NU was 8 for 29 (27.6 percent), including 1 for 12 on 3-pointers, in the first half.

In the second half, the Wildcats finally developed some offensive consistency.

Trailing 53-41, Northwestern charged back with a 10-2 run to make it 55-51 with 3:30 to play. Heath broke the run with a basket for a 57-53 edge with 2:23 remaining, but NU answered with five straight — capped by an Olah 3-pointer — to close the gap to 57-56 with 1:18 remaining.

Heath, though, answered again at the other end with a hoop and a foul with 55.5 seconds to go. He missed a free throw to keep it a one-possession game (59-56), but NU missed a quick 3-pointer and Georgia Tech closed things out from the free-throw line.

TIP INS

Georgia Tech: Coach Brian Gregory is a native of nearby Mt. Prospect, Illinois, and was a Northwestern assistant during the 1997-98 and the 1998-99 seasons. . The Yellow Jackets were 5-9 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge before Wednesday and snapped a five-game losing streak in the challenge before a 67-64 win over Illinois last December.

Northwestern: This was the third time in the last five years the teams had met in the ACC/Big Ten challenge with the Wildcats winning each of the previous two meetings in 2010 and 2011. Northwestern is 6-9 in the challenge but became the first Big Ten team to win four straight from 2008 to 2011.

UP NEXT

Georgia Tech hosts South Carolina Upstate on Saturday.

Northwestern plays at Butler on Saturday.