EVANSTON - On a cold, snowy night at Welsh-Ryan Arena, Nate Taphorn was hot off the bench as the Northwestern Wildcats (7-2) coasted to an easy 83-49 victory over the New Orleans Privateers (4-4).
Even after receiving news that Aaron Falzon would be out for the season, the Northwestern offense initially came out fast as Bryant McIntosh hit a three on the team’s second possession, but quickly cooled off. Barret Benson and Scottie Lindsey both scored as well, but Northwestern started 3-of-8 from the field and held a 7-4 lead at the under-16 timeout.
Isiah Brown ended a four minute Northwestern scoring drought with a pull-up jumper and then Vic Law hit four straight free throws to extend the lead to 13-5. However after that, neither team would be able to hit from the field and Northwestern held a 13-7 lead going into the under-12.
New Orleans continued to be lackadaisical with the ball, turning it over 7 times in the first 10 minutes. Lindsey ended another Northwestern scoring drought with a quick 5 points and suddenly the Wildcats were up by 11.
Lindsey’s three pointer did not manage to get the offense going, but the team continued to get to line. At the under-8 timeout Northwestern was 8-of-8 from the line, but 7-of-19 from the field. However, New Orleans was 5-of-15 with 7 turnovers, so Northwestern led 24-15.
Out of the media timeout, Taphorn saw the court for the first time and promptly hit a three pointer. Then Lindsey followed up a New Orleans basket with back to back layups, forcing the Privateers to call a timeout down 16.
Late in the half Northwestern finally starting taking it to the basket and it paid off as the Wildcats ripped off 8 straight points in the paint. Despite an overall poor showing, a 13-3 run gave Northwestern a 37-18 lead late in the half.
After an earth-shattering Taphorn putback slam, Northwestern would only score 4 more points in the last two minutes and take a 43-22 lead into the half. Lindsey was the leading scorer with 13, while Taphorn had 7 points and 7 rebounds. Vic Law was 0-6 from the field, but 6-6 from the line.
After New Orleans took a strange timeout 12 seconds into the half, Vic Law finally hit his first shot from the field, a three pointer, to give Northwestern a 48-24 lead. Lindsey followed up with a three pointer and Northwestern used a quick 12-0 run to extend its lead to 55-24 at the under-16 timeout.
What came next was an extended stretch of ugly basketball for the Privateers. New Orleans hit a jumper one minute into the half, and would go the next seven minutes without scoring a single point. This allowed Northwestern to go on a 22-0 run and basically put the game out of reach. The long run saw some quality play from Taphorn, as the big man put up six straight points, including a pull-up three pointer in transition. With only 10 minutes left, Northwestern led 70-31.
The next five minutes of game time saw New Orleans outscore Northwestern 12-4 as the bench began to get most of the playing time. Privateer forward Erik Thomas scored 9 straight points before Gavin Skelly and Taphorn combined for 7 of their own. The Privateers had begun to heat up offensively, but it was a little too late as Northwestern led 81-46 with three minutes left.
Nothing too extraordinary happened down the stretch and the Wildcats got an easy 83-49 win.
- New Orleans is not a great basketball team. The Privateers only managed 22 points in the first half and 49 for the entire game. They shot 37 percent from the field and had 21 turnovers. In fact, their 21 turnovers were more than their 18 field goals made.
- Northwestern did not shoot well to start the game, starting 7-of-19 from the field, but eventually started getting high percentage shots and finished a respectable 44 percent from the field. The team also managed to heat up from three, finishing 9-of-25 from downtown.
- Nate Taphorn was on fire off the bench all game. Taphorn set a career high in points with 18 and also added 6 rebounds. He also shot 7-of-11 from the field and had 3 three-pointers. It was easily Taphorn’s best game of the season and hopefully a sign of what’s to come.
- Similar to against DePaul, Northwestern got out to a big lead, but faded a bit down the stretch. This is fine when the team has a 41-point lead, but was also a problem against Notre Dame in a close game Northwestern needed to win.
- Vic Law had an off night — he was only 1-of-10 from the field — but he managed to make an impact by getting to the line. Law was 8-of-8 from the line and had 11 points on the night.
- The entire Wildcats team got to the line as well, finishing 17-of-20 from the charity stripe, after starting a perfect 15-of-15.