Feliz scores 26 as Illinois beats Northwestern 81-76
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By TERRY TOWERY
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) Andres Feliz scored 26 points - 16 of them at the foul line - to help Illinois hand Northwestern its 10th straight loss 81-76 on Sunday night.
Ayo Dosunmu and Giorgi Bezhanishvili added 12 points apiece and Aaron Jordan grabbed 10 rebounds for Illinois (11-18, 7-11 Big Ten).
Illinois was 33 of 38 from the foul line, while Northwestern (12-17, 3-15) was 17 of 22.
"Thirty-eight free throws. Wow," said Illinois coach Brad Underwood. "I think that's our season high."
Feliz was philosophical after the game.
"Well, we had to be aggressive," he said. "So we were and that got us to the foul line. We embarrassed ourselves earlier in the season, and we've worked hard since then. This feels good."
All the points scored in the game's final seven minutes came from the foul line.
Trent Frazier hit a 3-pointer 64 seconds in that sparked a 16-2 run and gave Illinois the lead for good. The Wildcats missed 10 of their first 12 field-goal attempts and shot just 30.3 percent (10 of 33), including 1 of 13 from 3-point range, in the first half.
HE SAID IT
"I was proud of our guys in the second half," said Northwestern coach Chris Collins. "But we couldn't throw the ball into the ocean in the first half."
The Illini led 39-27 at the half.
THE BIG PICTURE
The Wildcats entered Sunday's game on a nine-game losing streak. Northwestern hosts Ohio State and Purdue to end the regular season.
The Illini are 5-3 over the past eight games and are 6-6 over the last 12 games after starting Big Ten play 0-5. Illinois hosted Northwestern for just the third time in six seasons, with the last game in State Farm Center being played in 2017.
THE FINAL SECONDS
Northwestern stormed back to within three points when two intentional fouls sent Feliz to the line in the final 27 seconds.
"They did what good teams do in this conference," Underwood said. "They fought back."
Feliz hit the first two to put Illinois up by five points. After Northwestern again pulled to within 3 points, Feliz calmly sank two more free throws with 11.5 seconds left to seal the victory.
"We knew Feliz is a very electric guy," Collins said. "I mean, when you get 17 free throws in a game, that makes you more confident in the rest of your game."
FINDING THEIR RANGE
After a dismal first half of shooting, especially from beyond the 3-point stripe, the Wildcats found their range after the break.
Taylor hit three 3-pointers and Vic Law hit another to pull Northwestern to within three at 46-43 with 14:29 left.
"We got some looks there in the second half and we made them," Collins said. "But you have to give their guards credit. They did a good job being aggressive and getting to the free-throw line, especially there at the end."
Northwestern: Hosts Ohio State on Wednesday.
Illinois: Hosts Indiana on Thursday to close out the home regular season.
Updated March 3, 2019