EVANSTON -- The Vic Law Comeback Tour continues to chug right along.
Behind Law’s team-high 26 points, Northwestern (2-0) rolled to a comfortable 86-72 victory over Eastern Washington (1-1). Isiah Brown, Bryant McIntosh and Scottie Lindsey also scored in double digits for the Wildcats. Bogdan Bliznyuk paced the Eagles with 25 points in the loss.
The Wildcats got off to a fast start, leading by as many as 15 points in the first half. Law was on fire from all over the court and was able to get to the basket with ease. The redshirt sophomore scored 14 points before the break, at which Northwestern led 46-38. Points came easily for Chris Collins’ team, but Eastern Washington just wouldn’t go away.
The only thing that kept Northwestern from pulling away completely was the team’s inability to capitalize on fast-break opportunities. The Wildcats only scored four points off seven turnovers in the first half, allowing the Eagles to hang around.
After the break, Law continued to torch Eastern Washington’s defense, scoring nine second-half points. Bryant McIntosh also got in on the action, finishing with 18 points and seven assists while Dererk Pardon contributed 12 points and five rebounds.
Lindsey had a poor shooting night, but he made up for it in the assist department, dropping five dimes in the first half. Brown had another rough game from the field, but he kept up his knack of getting to the basket, converting layups and drawing multiple fouls.
Northwestern found most of its success going small against an Eastern Washington that lacks Big Ten size. With Gavin Skelly at center, the Wildcats had acres of space to drive. The Wildcats scored four buckets in the paint during a three-minute span in the first half, utilizing the shooting ability of Lindsey and Law to spread the Eagles’ defense thin.
The surprise of the game was Bliznyuk, whose 20 first half points kept the Eagles close at the break. When Collins inserted his big lineup, featuring both Pardon and Skelly, the 6-foot-6 junior went to work. Guarded by Skelly, Bliznyuk scored nine points to keep his team in the game.
But, Northwestern was able to limit Bliznyuk in the second half as the Wildcats’ defense locked in. Eastern Washington was able to get within six points early on after the intermission, but turnovers doomed the Eagles and Northwestern took advantage.
The Wildcats have a quick turnaround, as they head out on the road to take on Butler at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Wednesday. It will be the first road game of the season for Northwestern and the Wildcats’ first legitimate test.
- The Wildcats showed impressive discipline on offense, only turning the ball over five times. Collins has coached this team to make quick, smart passes, and it showed tonight, albeit against a defensively challenged team. In addition, Northwestern forced 14 turnovers, a testament to the team’s desire to maintain an active defense.
- As Aaron Falzon nurses his knee back to health, it’s interesting to think about how he’ll fit in with the roster once he’s 100 percent. In his four minutes tonight, he didn’t contribute much, but Falzon’s proven shooting was expected to be a major aspect of this offense. It if — and he — are going to be compromised for an extended period of time, other guys (like Vic Law) need to pick up the slack.
- In Falzon’s absence, Law has stepped up and delivered as Northwestern’s No. 1 offensive weapon. After missing last season, Law looks to have shaken off the rust, and if tonight’s performance is any indication, the best is yet to come. His jumper was on-target all game and he drove to the hoop with aggressiveness, although he did clank a wide open baseline jam.