Northwestern,playing without its top player Kevin Cobel and top shooter Jeff Ryan, nonetheless pulled off a surprise with its first Holiday Tournament Championship in 16 years. The Wildcats won the fourth annual Chicago Invitational Challenge at the UIC Pavilion with upset wins over #23 Notre Dame and Iowa State, both previously unbeaten. John Shurna was the Tournament MVP with 23 in the Title Game-17 in the first half. The Cats won the game 67-65 despite red hot three point shooting by the Cyclones Lucca Staiger and Jamie Vanderbeken. NU also was able to absorb 18 points and 9 rebounds from Iowa State pro prospect Craig Brackins. NU trailed 39-34 at the half and fell behind 43-34 early in the second half,but fought back to tie it at 51 all on a three pointer by Juice Thompson with 10:55 left. After Iowa State went back in front for the final time 53-51, Alex Marcotulio drilled a home run to put NU(5-1)in front for good. It was 56-55 when Drew Crawford took a Shurna feed for a lay up,and after a ‘stop’, Davide Curletti hit his own 3-ball to make it 61-55. The Cyclones closed to within 63-61 on a long ball by Staiger, but four clutch free throws by Jeremy Nash clinched it. In addition to Shurnas 23, Thompson added 16 and Nash 10. All three were on the All-Tournament team.
NOTES—Notre Dame took third place with a 64-52 win over St.Louis. Luke Harangody scored 18 and pulled down 9 rebounds while also being named to the All-Tournament team…..The Cats last Holiday Tournament Title was in 1993-94,the Hatter Classic in De land,Florida with wins over Northeastern and Rider.