Leading the Northwestern Wildcats (12-16, 5-10) 56-51 with less than a minute to play, IU senior forward Will Sheehey — IU men’s basketball’s most recent addition to its 1,000-point club — iced the game with a 3-pointer from the wing.
“(It was a) big three,” IU Coach Tom Crean said.
They were Sheehey’s 11th and 12th points of the game and his first 3-pointer. He had missed previous 3-point attempts, but he displayed confidence in his shot after the game.
“I mean, I think every one’s going in,” Sheehey said. “Every time I shoot I think it’s going in. Why shoot if you don’t think so?”
IU (15-11, 5-8) left Evanston, Ill., with a 61-56 win, the second road victory of the season.
Sheehey played a large role in the Hoosiers’ win, totaling 12 points on 5-of-11 shooting, nine of which came during the second half. He also pulled in six rebounds and recorded two steals.
From the three minute and 54 second mark in the first half to the 12 minute and 35 second mark in the second, IU went on an 18-4 scoring run that saw five different Hoosiers score.
It put the Hoosiers in a familiar situation — a second-half lead on the road during conference play.
IU never wilted, but Northwestern closed the deficit to four points after a Tre Demps layup with two minutes and 21 seconds remaining.
During IU’s next possession, freshman wing Troy Williams scored a layup assisted by fellow freshman Noah Vonleh.
After Demps made one of two free throws during Northwestern’s next possession, Sheehey connected on his game-deciding 3-pointer.
Northwestern Coach Chris Collins said he thought Sheehey’s play was crucial for IU.
“We wanted to test them with their jump shooting, and for the most part it got us back in,” Collins said. “But I thought Sheehey’s baskets were really big for them. He did what a senior does.”
Despite picking up his fourth foul with five minutes and 14 seconds remaining in the game, Sheehey managed to play sound defense the rest of the game without fouling.
He did, however, struggle with turnovers.
IU turned the ball over seven times against Northwestern, its lowest total of the season. Sheehey, who had three of the team’s seven turnovers, was able to laugh about it afterwards.
“Yeah, I think I had half, so that’s pretty good if one guy can get half,” Sheehey said.
The win moves the Hoosiers into ninth place in the Big Ten, but more importantly, it ends what had been a string of unfortunate events.
After the game, Crean said he was glad to see Sheehey hit his 3-pointer at the end of the game because of how hard he works.
“It’s fantastic for Will to make that shot because he works so hard,” Crean said. “His leadership’s been so good. He had a long week.”
Crean said Sheehey was very disappointed after IU’s losses to Purdue and Penn State.
“He’s a literal ‘heart-and-soul’ guy,” Crean said. “So it’s fantastic to see him make that shot.”
Follow reporter John Bauernfeind on Twitter @JohnBauernfeind.