After a sluggish start, Northwestern pulled away from Chicago State in the second half to send Jeremy Nash out a winner in his final regular season home game. The 'Cats had 14 steals (led by Nash's 4) and hit 13 of 31 3-pointers (led by Alex Marcotullio's 5 for 7). Nash finished out his senior night with 7 points and 3 assists to go along with the 4 steals.
The first 15 minutes were pretty ugly for NU, as they only led 27-25 near the end of the first half. They struggled at times with Chicago State's zone, and turned it over several times on ill-advised alley-oop attempts, which deservedly drew the ire of Bill Carmody. But they went on a 10-2 run to close the first half, then broke it wide open early in the second half and cruised to victory. Very few teams have played zone against Northwestern this year, which may explained why they initially had trouble, but after halftime Carmody made the right adjustments and it stopped being an issue. On the defensive end, they played almost entirely 1-3-1, and it was quite effective as the Cougars shot just 28% from the field and turned it over 19 times. Then again, pretty much any defense would likely have been good enough to shut down Chicago State, so I wouldn't get too excited.
My biggest complaint by far tonight was that Drew Crawford played for 22 minutes. We learned after Sunday's game that he's been battling a hip injury, and it was readily apparent tonight as Crawford was just 1 for 7 from the field. After his only basket on a breakaway layup in the first half, he was visibly limping back up the court, yet Carmody still used him a lot in the second half. It makes zero sense to me not to rest him for Saturday's Indiana game and beyond, I don't know what Carmody was thinking there.
In any event, it's nice to close out the home schedule with a win, and with some luck maybe Northwestern can get a home game or two in the NIT. A win Saturday against Indiana would certainly go a long way towards getting there.