EVANSTON, Ill. – Northwestern needed another marquee victory to bolster its chances of making the school's first-ever NCAA tournament bid.
The Wildcats had a seven-point halftime lead and were bothering No. 11 Michigan with their 1-3-1 zone Tuesday night. But they faded in overtime, giving up three straight 3-pointers, and the Wolverines emerged with a 67-55 victory.
"If we would have won his game tonight it would have been a really good one because they are ranked," Northwestern coach Bill Carmody. "But it doesn't knock you out of the box."
But with three games left the Wildcats (16-11, 6-9) can't wait much longer. They play road games at Penn State and Iowa and have a home game with Ohio State before the Big Ten tournament.
"A tough loss," Northwestern's Reggie Hearn said. "We had a chance to get a resume-building win. We didn't get it but we still got something to play for."
Northwestern's John Shurna, who leads the Big Ten in scoring, managed only 14 points, six under his average, and had only four in the second half. And the Wildcats' second leading scorer, Drew Crawford, played just 10 minutes after halftime and didn't score, finishing with six points. He was bothered by a leg injury.
But what really hurt the Wildcats were 14 turnovers, some at crucial junctures. With the game tied at 49 at the end of regulation, they had two shots to go ahead but couldn't convert and ended up absorbing their second overtime loss this year to Michigan.
"We got worn down and turned the ball over 14 times," Carmody said. "Those are possessions you can't get back. That's not acceptable."
Trey Burke, Zack Novak and Stu Douglass hit 3-pointers to start the extra period as Michigan continued its late season surge with a fourth straight victory.
"They're trying to get into the NCAA tournament and we're trying to play for a Big Ten championship and I think the game and the spirit of the game reflected that," Michigan coach John Beilein said.
Shurna became the school's career scoring leader on Saturday but was guarded by multiple defenders Tuesday night. He shot 6-for-16.
"We tried to do some things that would not get him feeling comfortable," Beilein said. "Even from NBA range."
Burke, who finished with 19 points, sank a 3-pointer after an offensive rebound by Novak to give the Wolverines (21-7, 11-4) the early lead in overtime. And then two more 3s gave the Wolverines a nine-point lead.
"We went out there with a different mindset going into overtime. We did all the small things, got on the board, got on the ground. We just executed," Burke said.
"We knew that they were a little winded and we were going to come out and hit big shots, and we did. ... Coach Just told us to keep shooting."
Tim Hardaway Jr.'s 3-pointer with about a minute and a half left in regulation tied the game at 49. Both teams had a chance to go ahead in closing seconds but couldn't.
Northwestern missed two shots and the Burke rebounded the second one and called a timeout with 24.3 seconds to go. The Wolverines moved the ball around before Northwestern's Alex Marcotullio fouled with 4.7 seconds to go.
After both teams used timeouts, Burke put up a contested shot from deep that was well short, forcing the second overtime game of the season between the teams. Michigan won the first meeting 66-64 in Ann Arbor on Jan. 11.
Hearn, who had 11 points and 11 rebounds, hit a 3-pointer as Northwestern regrouped after three rapid-fire turnovers to give the Wildcats a 45-43 lead. And a Wolverines miss at the other end,. Shurna made a spin move in the lane and dropped the ball in the basket to make it a four-point lead.
But Burke and Hardaway hit 3-pointers for Michigan on either side of a basket Shurna made while falling down making it 49-49 tie with 1:25 left.