Columbia raced out to a 17-5 lead at Northwestern and led 74-68 as late as the 2:18 mark. So how did the Lions lose?
Maodo Lo’s foul trouble
Lo picked up his second foul with 8:10 left in the first half and his fourth foul with 11:31 left in the game. He never fouled out, he spent much of the second half limited defensively by his inability to stay aggressive, a huge loss since he had three steals in the game’s first 12:36 and the Wildcats had trouble with his on-the-ball pressure. Lo playing just 26 minutes – four fewer than any other starter and at least 12 fewer than starters besides Isaac Cohen – meant Columbia’s defense was that much more exposed for longer stretches than usual.
Late-game offensive struggles
A weirdly low-percentage (i.e. not driving in the lane to pick up a foul) shot from Alex Rosenberg with 11 seconds left in regulation couldn’t win the game for the Lions, and neither did Columbia’s three turnovers in its first six possessions in overtime. In the final three minutes of the regulation, Columbia attempted six shots and missed five of them, settling for jumper after jumper instead of slashing to the rim or getting to the line. Northwestern notched four field goals and zero free throws in the same span, bu that was enough because Columbia suddenly cooled off when crunchtime came. The Lions need to have better spacing, get their best offensive personnel on the corresponding end of the floor (this is where Isaac Cohen becomes a liability) and get more aggressive. But then again, when you’ve built your lead with outside shooting, it’s easy to also lose your lead that way.
Bryant McIntosh breaks it wide open
Northwestern wanted to win too, and it did thanks to sophomore guard Bryant McIntosh taking over. He scored 11 points in the final 6:15 of regulation and four more in overtime, including a dagger jumper with 24 seconds left that put Northwestern up two possessions and was officially the game-winning shot. His 32 points and 5-for-6 performance from three-point range out-perimetered the Lions down the stretch, and Columbia had no answer.