CHICAGO, Ill. -- The University of Michigan men's basketball team had its season come to an end Thursday afternoon (March 10), falling 58-56 to Northwestern in the first round of the Big Ten Conference Tournament at the United Center. The Wolverines held a two-point edge with less than 11 minutes to play, but the Wildcats (15-15) went on a 12-0 scoring run to regain a 51-41 lead that they would never relinquish. U-M concludes the season with a 13-18 record.
Sophomore Courtney Sims (Roslindale, Mass./Noble & Greenough School) recorded a career-high 25 points, going 8-of-9 from field, to go along with six rebounds. Sophomore Dion Harris (Detroit, Mich./Redford HS) finished with 19 points and five assists, while sophomore Brent Petway (McDonough, Ga./Griffin HS) pulled down a game-high eight rebounds and four points. Sims and Harris accounted for 44 of Michigan's 56 points.
The Wolverines claimed a 4-0 lead after the first minute of action, as sophomore Brent Petway (McDonough, Ga./Griffin HS) collected a putback inside and freshman Ron Coleman (Romulus, Mich./Romulus HS) earned a pair from the free throw line. U-M was then held scoreless for nearly five minutes, allowing the Wildcats to tie the score at 4-4. Harris broke the drought by scoring eight unanswered points, including two triples, to give Michigan a 12-4 advantage with 12:21 left in the first half.
Northwestern responded with an 8-2 run over the next seven minutes to draw within two points of U-M, 14-12. Sophomore John Andrews (West Bloomfield, Mich./Orchard Lake St. Mary's) provided the Wolverines with a spark off the bench, converting on a pretty scooping layup before knocking down a jumper to push the lead back up to 18-12 with 5:18 remaining until halftime.
The Wildcats stayed in contention, scoring five of the game's next seven points to stay within two, 20-18. Michigan ended the half on a 6-1 run, as Sims scored four straight from the line before stealing the ball and throwing down a two-handed slam to send the Wolverines into the locker room with a 26-20 lead.
Harris and Sims combined for all but eight of U-M's 26 first-half points. Both teams struggled from the field during the first 20 minutes, with Michigan finishing 8-of-22 (36.4 percent) and Northwestern shooting 8-of-27 (29.6 percent).
The Wolverines were able to sustain a five-point lead after the first three minutes of the second half, but Northwestern reeled off seven unanswered points to take its first lead of the game, 32-30, with 15:34 left in the game. The Wildcats kept a slim lead over the next four minutes of play until Harris drilled a long two as the shot clock was winding down to put Michigan back on top, 41-39, with 11:07 to go.
Northwestern stormed out to a 51-41 lead thanks to an 12-0 run during a four-minute span. Harris' third three-pointer, at 6:35, broke a four-and-a-half minute scoring drought and was the start of a 12-4 run for the Wolverines. Sims scored eight straight points during the surge, including a pair of free throws that brought U-M within two, 55-53, with 1:08 on the clock.
Michigan had two prime opportunities to take control of the game during the final minute. Coleman's triple with 26 seconds left, which would have vaulted the Wolverines into the lead, was off the mark. Harris then had a chance to tie the game from the free throw line with 9.9 seconds remaining, but he missed the first of two shots.
With the Wildcats holding a 56-54 lead, Michigan was called for an intentional foul, which eventually resulted in three T.J. Parker free throws that extended the lead to 58-54 with six seconds left. A quick hoop by Sims was not enough, as Northwestern inbounded the ball and ran out the clock.
Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423