Northwestern played by far their worst offensive game of the season, but thankfully they were playing the worst team on their schedule and escaped with a 9 point victory. UTPA led at halftime and for a lot of the 2nd half before NU finally took the lead for good with 10 minutes to play.
The 'Cats offense was just flat out ugly, shooting 32% from the field and turning the ball over a season high 19 times. Most of the turnovers were unforced, a lot of stupid passes to teammates who were well covered. John Shurna singlehandedly kept NU in the game in the first half, as he had 16 of the 'Cats 21 first half points. He finished with a game high 21 points and 13 rebounds. Luka Mirkovic also had a nice game with 11 points and 11 rebounds, 7 of them offensive boards. He played bad in the first half and got in Carmody's dog house with some bad turnovers, but responded nicely in the second half and didn't force up any bad shots like he's been doing the past two games.
The rest of the offense was flat out embarrassing. Crawford, Nash, Thompson and Marcotullio were a combined 3 for 28 from the field and 0 for 15 from 3 point range, and turned the ball over 11 times between them. Amazing they won with 4 of their top 5 scorers sucking that badly.
On defense, NU did a fine job, holding UTPA to 28% shooting. That's not much of an accomplishment considering the Broncs had no size and no reliable jump shooters, but the defense wasn't the problem and kept the 'Cats in the game. If UTPA hadn't been a terrible 7 for 16 from the line, this could easily have been a loss for Northwestern.
Nothing positive to take from this game. What was supposed to be a cakewalk and opportunity to rest the starters turned into a tight game and Thompson and Shurna had to play 37 and 39 minutes respectively. Against any other team on their schedule, Northwestern probably loses tonight, and against any Big Ten team they lose by 20 (yes even to Iowa.) I guess the 'Cats were due for a stinker as they haven't really played badly since the narrow escape over Tennessee State, but a performance like this does not inspire much confidence going into Michigan on Sunday. Michigan rallied from a 15 point halftime deficit tonight to win at Penn State, so the Wolverines will have some momentum. We'll see if NU can salvage the season.