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Northwestern rides rebounding edge to win at Baylor

The SportsXchange

WACO, Texas -- Northwestern coach Bill Carmody said he still never knows what to expect from a Wildcats team with seven freshmen and two transfers.

On Tuesday, he got the right ingredients for a quality nonconference road win.

The Wildcats rebounded and played defense, and they held on to defeat Baylor 74-70 at the Ferrell Center.

Northwestern (7-2) outrebounded Baylor 37-24. The Wildcats silenced the Bears (5-3) on the offensive end coming out of halftime to build a lead that would withstand Baylor's late rally.

"We never outrebound anybody, so that felt good," Carmody said. "This is a good win, and especially on the road. This is the kind of team we play, so this is real important for us."

Bears center Isaiah Austin hit a 3-pointer with 2.3 seconds left to make it a two-point game, but the Wildcats' Drew Crawford made two free throws to ice the win.

Crawford led Northwestern with 19 points. Reggie Hearn added 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Wildcats, who had all five starters contribute at least 10 points.

Pierre Jackson (18 points and six assists) and A.J. Walton (11 points and six rebounds) were the only Bears to score in double figures.

Northwestern surged in the second half by shutting down Baylor's offense. The Wildcats held Baylor to one point through the first seven minutes after the break. That allowed Northwestern to grab a 15-point lead when center Alex Olah hit a jumper with 13:04 left.

Carmody credited Dave Sobolewski's 3-pointer at the end of the first half for sparking Northwestern after the break.

"We hit that shot at the buzzer, and then things opened up the first six or seven minutes of the second half," Carmody said.

Walton made the Bears' first field goal of the second half with 12:22 to go, but that only seemed to ignite the Wildcats.

Crawford and Sobolewski hit 3-pointers on consecutive trips down the floor, pushing the Wildcats to their largest lead, 54-36.

Baylor began creeping closer when Northwestern went cold from the field later in the second half. The Wildcats went without a field goal for almost six minutes, though Hearn went 4-for-4 from the free-throw line during that stretch.

Meanwhile, Baylor's Gary Franklin hit a 3-pointer and Jackson went to the basket for a layup that cut the Wildcats' lead to eight with 5:03 left.

Hearn and Jared Swopshire each picked up their fourth foul for Northwestern during the same stretch, increasing Baylor's chance to claw its way back.

Hearn stayed in the game and scored a vital layup on an assist from Sobolewski, and Olah made a fade-away jumper to extend the Wildcats' lead back to 12 with 3:48 remaining.

"We dug ourselves a big hole," Baylor coach Scott Drew said. "It's frustrating for our staff, our fans, our players. As a coach you want to find that rhythm, and we have not been able to do that this year."

Northwestern weathered Baylor's 8-2 run to begin the game. Bears guard Brady Heslip's 3-pointer bounced high off the rim and fell through to give Baylor the early six-point edge.

The Wildcats closed the gap with 3-pointers by Sobolewski and Kale Abrahamson to tie the game at 16.

Northwestern, which outrebounded Baylor more than 2-to-1 in the first half, carved out a 10-2 run midway through the first half.

Crawford sparked the Wildcats' surge with a fast-break layup on an assist from Sobolewski and two free throws. Swopshire capped it with a putback that gave Northwestern a 28-23 lead with 3:43 to go in the half.

"No way we should have been outrebounded tonight," Baylor guard A.J. Walton said. "No reason why we should be outrebounded period."

Baylor stopped the run with a Heslip 3-pointer, and Bears forward Rico Gathers tied the game with an inside basket on an assist from Jackson.

The Wildcats went to halftime with a three-point lead after Sobolewski hit a 3 with the first-half clock running out.

NOTES: Baylor, which ended Kentucky's 55-game home winning streak on Saturday, dropped its second straight at home. The Bears lost at home against College of Charleston on Nov. 24. ... Northwestern improved to 3-0 this season in the state of Texas. The Wildcats defeated TCU and Illinois State in the South Padre Island Invitational. ... Northwestern is now 2-0 against Big 12 opponents this season.
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