Northwestern’s late comeback falls short of UCLA


SACRAMENTO, Calif. — If Northwestern’s second-round loss to UCLA feels like a déjà vu, it’s for good reason.

Exactly six years ago, NU was wrapping up its historic tournament run after a failed comeback with No. 1 Gonzaga.

This time, their deficit never widened to 20, and it was the No. 2 seed that closed out the Wildcats’ second appearance in Round 32 in a 68-63 loss on Saturday.

“I was not surprised by the way our team played in the second half,” said coach Chris Collins. We have a fighter spirit. Even if you are defeated, you will continue to fight. ”

Coach Mick Cronin and his Bruins have lived up to expectations. Pac-12 Player of the Year Jaime Jaquez Jr. led his team past the Wildcats into the Sweet 16. Amari Bailey, who grew up in Chicago before moving to Los Angeles for high school, added 14 points.

Wildcats backcourt duo Boo Boo and Chase Odige had five combined points in the first half. They all came from Bouillet, who went 1-for-4 from the field in the half.

Odigi had a shot in the second half to help the Wildcats comeback. He scored 10 points from the halftime break to cut UCLA’s lead to 4 with 13 minutes remaining. He equalized in the 11th minute.

“We got together and said this is what we wanted,” Collins said. “that is [late-game] fight. ”

However, just like six years ago, his team’s comeback fell short.

Auge recorded 16 goals and seven assists. Bouillet added his 18 points and Matthew Nicholson notched his career-high 17, going 7-for-7 from the field and 3-for-4 from the foul line.

There was no dry eye in the locker room.

“We knew it was going to be a war,” said Odigi. “We started off really cold. I airballed the first shot and hit the side of the backboard on the second shot. To UCLA’s credit, they stepped up the play.”

While NU’s program’s tournament highlights can be boiled down to sticky notes, UCLA has books and movies dedicated to its history.

It’s been nearly 30 years since the Bruins’ last NCAA title, and they still hold 11 records.

After waiting 77 years, the Wildcats earned their first tournament berth in 2017, continuing their history-making season by slipping to the bottom of the Big 10. It’s worth noting that the 2017 team returned next season almost completely unscathed.

In celebration of making history, Collins acknowledged his failure to lead his program toward the reality of what it takes to make it a habit. Is it different?

The Big Ten have been terrible this season. This is reflected in the fact that his team at the top of the league, Purdue, lost to Fairey’s Dickinson in the first round. In the years to come, it will grow stronger. UCLA and USC will make him a full member in 2024. What can Collins do to avoid the same pitfalls?

Buie, Auge and Robbie Beran have one year left to qualify. The future of the program is uncertain as everyone admits they haven’t given it much thought.

“My focus is completely on being there for this team,” Odigi said before the game.

However, Auge confirmed that he and Buie have discussed a future at Northwestern. Whether or not his senior trio return, Collins is taking a break from his work to prevent any more history from repeating itself.


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Written by Natalia Chi

Chicago Popular; Chicago breaking news, weather and live video. Covering local politics, health, traffic and sports for Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana.

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