The Gavitt Tipoff Games have really been something so far.
A night after Maryland pulled off an unbelievable comeback against Georgetown in the final seconds, Northwestern went down to the wire with Butler at Hinkle Fieldhouse. But it was Bulldogs freshman Kamar Baldwin who first made a crucial steal and then knocked down a game-winning jumper with just 0.4 seconds remaining to send the Wildcats back to Evanston with a 70-68 loss.
Despite holding a ridiculous shooting advantage over the first 20 minutes — Northwestern shot 45.8 percent from the field, while Butler shot a brutal 31.4 percent — the Cats had just a three-point lead at halftime, 32-29.
Things were tight the entire second half. Butler held a five-point lead around the midway point of the period, only for Northwestern to erase it with a 12-1 run over a roughly five-minute span that featured five points from Vic Law and 3-pointers from Law and Gavin Skelly and put the Cats ahead by six. The Bulldogs, though, had an answer for that, charging out on their own 11-3 burst to tie the game at 63 with about three minutes left and then take a two-point lead a half minute later.
Bryant McIntosh and Tyler Wideman traded pairs of free throws, and Sanjay Lumpkin made a game-tying layup with under two minutes to play. Skelly split a pair of free throws to put the Cats ahead by one with a minute to play, and Andrew Chrabascz splitting two free-throw tries tied the game at 68 with 53 seconds left. With a chance to take the lead, McIntosh had the ball stolen away by Baldwin, and after a Butler timeout, Baldwin nailed the game-winning jumper from just inside the 3-point line.
Northwestern shot even better after halftime than it did during the game's first 20 minutes, going 13-for-26 from the field and 5-for-10 from behind the 3-point line. But Butler had a big advantage from the free-throw line in the second half, making 12 of 15 from the stripe, while Northwestern was just 5-for-6. The Cats also turned the ball over 16 times on the evening — including 10 times in the second half — leading to 18 points for the Bulldogs. Butler was better in the paint, with a 26-18 scoring edge, and had an 8-0 advantage in fast-break points.
Four Northwestern players scored in double figures. Law led the way with 17 points on 6-for-8 shooting and 5-for-6 3-point shooting, also grabbing six rebounds. McIntosh had 12 points to go along with five assists. Lumpkin and Scottie Lindsey each scored 10 points and combined for 12 rebounds.
The Cats dropped to 2-1 with the loss and next head to Brooklyn for the Legends Classic, with games against Texas and either Notre Dame or Colorado awaiting next week.