EVANSTON - Behind double-doubles from Sanjay Lumpkin and Gavin Skelly, Northwestern trounced IUPUI 87-65 Tuesday at Welsh-Ryan Arena, moving to 10-2 and extending its winning streak to seven.
After posting 14 points and 14 rebounds against Dayton, Lumpkin was at it again for the second-straight game. He nearly got a double-double in the first half, recording seven points and 10 boards. With Dererk Pardon sidelined for the past three weeks, Lumpkin has stepped up on the glass for the Wildcats.
Skelly had a productive evening too, recording 19 points and 11 boards. In addition, his defensive activity was excellent, as he blocked six shots. Skelly’s energy off the bench has been crucial to Northwestern’s success all season, but he was on another level tonight. He kept possessions alive by hitting the offensive glass and even hit a three-pointer.
Northwestern did a ton of damage inside in the first half, scoring 18 points in the paint and shooting 11 free throws. All night, the Wildcats attacked the rim relentlessly, outscoring IUPUI 36 to 24 in the paint.
The Wildcats’ ball movement is what led to their repeated drives into the lane. In the first half, the team assisted on 12 of its 16 field goals, a sign that everyone was sharing the ball and stretching IUPUI’s defense thin. While nobody scored more than 10 points for Northwestern in the first 20 minutes, eight players were in the scoring column.
Bryant McIntosh struggled with shot throughout the game, despite hitting a buzzer-beating three to end the first half. Despite this, his vision was still terrific, as he dropped nine dimes. Scottie Lindsey and Vic Law combined for a quiet 14 points.
The starters received a huge offensive boost from the reserves. Along with Skelly, Isiah Brown scored 15 points and Nate Taphorn contributed 12 points of his own. When everyone on the team is scoring, Northwestern’s offense is hard to stop.
Defensively, the Wildcats did a solid job. In the first half, they couldn’t stop fouling—four players committed two fouls—but IUPUI couldn’t convert from the foul line, shooting five of 11 on free throws.
On Thursday, Northwestern will have a chance to extend its winning streak to eight against Houston Baptist. The game tips off at 7 p.m. CT at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Next week, the Wildcats begin conference play against Penn State on Tuesday.
- Law has grabbed the most headlines this season, but Sanjay Lumpkin continues to be Northwestern’s most consistent player. He’s put up gaudy numbers in the past couple games, but he does it in an unassuming fashion. He does the dirty work defensively and on the glass, and he’s extremely efficient on offense. Tonight, Lumpkin added to what has already been a fantastic senior year with 13 points and 13 rebounds.
- In Pardon’s absence, rim protection has been a big concern for the team. Tonight, Barret Benson and Skelly proved they can provide deterrence at the basket. They combined for 12 blocks against the Jaguars, stifling players whenever they went up for a shot. If they can continue to play with energy on defense, the Wildcats may be able to stay afloat without Pardon for the first week of conference play.
- Point guard play has left a lot to be desired so far this season. Both Bryant McIntosh and Brown have struggled from the field, and while McIntosh’s shooting woes continued tonight, Brown showed flashes of the player he can become with more experience. His three-point shooting and facilitating off the bench kept Northwestern’s offense humming as he had 15 points on five-of-nine shooting.