Chase Audige had a season-high 20 points and Ty Berry scored 12 of his 19 points in the second half as Northwestern rallied to beat Liberty 66-52 Tuesday in the Cancun Challenge in Mexico.
Northwestern advances to play No. 13 Auburn at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya on Wednesday in the championship. On Tuesday, the Tigers cruised to an 85-64 win over Bradley, which faces Liberty on Wednesday.
The Wildcats improved to 5-0 for the first time in eight years despite missing their first seven shots, not scoring in the first five minutes and trailing by as many as 12. Northwestern also overcame a rough outing by leading scorer Boo Buie, who only scored five points on 1-of-8 shooting.
Darius McGhee scored 23 points, including 13 in the first half, to lead Liberty. But the Flames suffered a six-minute scoreless drought in the second half, and couldn’t hold on to an early double-digit lead.
Both teams came out frigid, combining to miss their first 13 shots.
Liberty took the early lead with free throws 2 1/2 minutes in, while Northwestern didn’t score until Robbie Beran made a layup at the 14:47 mark.
The Flames went on a 9-2 run to go ahead 18-9 and held their largest lead at 27-15.
Berry vaulted Northwestern back into the game with six straight points. His steal and layup trimmed Liberty’s lead to two at 27-25.
Liberty took a 29-28 lead into the break.
Buie, who had 28 points in Northwestern’s win over Purdue Fort Wayne on Friday, finally scored 17 seconds into the second half to put Northwestern up 30-29 during a 13-2 run.
Kyle Rode, who scored 11 points, hit two 3s to help Liberty regain the lead at 35-30.
The Wildcats used a 14-0 run to snag a 44-35 lead. Liberty went six minutes without scoring until Rode ended the drought with a floater.
Buie’s first field goal gave Northwestern a 57-45 lead with a banked 3-pointer.
The Flames, who overcame a 26-point second-half lead before falling to Southern Miss last week, couldn’t mount a comeback in this one.
–Field Level Media