At one point, it seemed like Northwestern might be in for another dogfight. Trailing to St. Peter's in the first half, thoughts of a tighter-than-anticipated season-opener against Loyola (Md.) crept in.
Those thoughts were quickly erased, though, when the Wildcats hit their first three three-pointers of the second half, en route to a 75-66 win Monday night at Allstate Arena. After Lindsey bailed out Northwestern on Friday, it was Bryant McIntosh and Gavin Skelly who provided the firepower in game No. 2; McIntosh finished with a team-high 17 points, while Skelly added 14 of his own.
Northwestern rode its defense to victory, holding St. Peter’s to 40.9 percent from the field and out-rebounding them 34-16. In addition to McIntosh and Skelly, Vic Law, Scottie Lindsey and Dererk Pardon all finished as double-digit scorers in a balanced offensive effort.
Northwestern opened an 11-3 lead and looked to be headed toward an easy victory after a Lindsey three and a St. Peter’s timeout. However, Northwestern again failed to step on its opponent’s necks, St. Peter’s somehow went on 12-4 run to take a 17-15 lead at the under-8. Not exactly what you’d expect from a top 25 team.
Northwestern was committing turnovers and missing shots, but the Wildcats’ strong defense kept them in the game. Northwestern went on a solid run to go up 32-25 at the interval. The main difference was Northwestern going 10-of-11 from the line as opposed to zero free throw attempts from St. Peter’s. It almost felt like watching the football team c. 2015 as the defense repeatedly continued to bail out an effective offense.
The second half started much more smoothly. Skelly and Lindsey both knocked down threes to extend the lead to 11, forcing St. Peter’s to burn an early timeout. A slick B-Mac floater put Northwestern up by 15 two minutes later. Northwestern continued to execute offensively, but St. Peter’s managed to cut the lead to 57-47 at the under-8 after a Cameron Jones three-pointer.
There was a stretch in the middle of the half when the NU offenses slowed down, but the Wildcats' ability to get to the free throw line allowed the home team to stay in control. Northwestern’s lead never dipped under 7, so it wasn't a blowout by any stretch of the imagination, but the Wildcats were able to close out the Peacocks with relative ease, even the Peacocks managed to hang around for a while.
The Wildcats still don’t look like the world-beating team that garnered a top 25 ranking before the season. But a win is a win, even if the Wildcats will need to be much better if they wants to beat Creighton on Wednesday.
- Northwestern had 17 turnovers to 10 for St. Peter’s. Yikes.
- The offense still has some work to do. If St. Peter’s hadn’t operated on a “let’s only chuck threes from deep” gameplan, the Peacocks could’ve really put something together. Too many times it was just B-Mac trying to create.
- Gavin Skelly was a huge positive in this game. Northwestern needs him to produce like this every night.
- B-Mac had 7 boards, which is as indicative of a height advantage as you’ll find.