EVANSTON, Ill.-Northwestern rallied back from and 18-point first-half deficit to tie the game, but was edged by Stanford in the end, falling 70-68 at Welsh-Ryan Arena Friday evening.
Stanford entered the contest shooting just 26.2 percent from 3-point range on the season, but hit six of its first seven shots from beyond the arch as a 22-4 run broke a 10-10 tie and gave the Cardinal a 32-14 lead with 7:04 remaining.
However, the game miraculously turned around as the Wildcats got stops and created offense with their switch to the 1-3-1 defense.
A 3-pointer by Alex Marcotullio started the comeback. Following two free throws by Alex Olah, Reggie Hearn scored five straight points, including a steal and a slam to get Northwestern within 32-24 with 3:14 left.
The 'Cats weren't finished, though, as a tip-in by Olah and a three-point play by Marcotullio made it 32-29 prior to Hearn driving baseline for a score to make it a 17-0 run for NU and a one-point game.
In all, Northwestern held Stanford scoreless for seven minutes before a John Gage 3-pointer out of the corner with five seconds remaining gave the guests a 35-31 lead at the break.
The Cardinal would extend its lead back up to as many as eight on a triple by Aaron Bright with 15:09 left. The Stanford lead was seven, 61-54, with eight minutes to go when the Wildcats rallied to make it all the way back.
A layup by Olah followed by a 3-pointer by Tre Demps got the hosts within two before Demps finally evened the game with a jumper that made it 61-61 with 6:34 remaining.
However, Gage hit a triple on the ensuing possession and Josh Huestis hit two from the charity stripe to put the Cardinal back up by five with 3:50 to go. A basket by Jared Swopshire and one free throw by Olah got the deficit back to two with one free throw before Huestis hit one of his own.
The Wildcats knotted things again at 67 apiece with 1:50 left when Demps nailed a 3-pointer, but Bright responded with a deep three to put Stanford back in front.
Swopshire made one of two free throw attempts with 48.5 seconds remaining before Stanford turned the ball over on the other end with 28 seconds left, giving Northwestern one more chance. With the final seconds winding down, Demps drove the lane but couldn't finish at the rim. Stanford was able to save the ball off of Dave Sobolewski with 2.9 seconds left and then ran out the remainder of the clock to seal the win.
Hearn paced the Wildcats with 18 points and seven rebounds despite being forced out of the game for the final 16 minutes due to injury. Olah contributed a career-high 16 points while Demps and Marcotullio added 12 and 10, respectively, off the bench.
Northwestern returns to action at 12:30 p.m. Sunday when it closes out the nonconference portion of its regular season by taking on Brown. Sunday is Take a Kid to a Game Day. Day. Two children in 8th grade and under will be admitted free of charge with a paid adult admission. (Tickets must be purchased day of game.)