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Northwestern-Valparaiso rapid reaction: Hot-shooting Wildcats cruise to 84-50 victory

The Wildcats got up big early and never looked back.

NCAA Basketball: Valparaiso at Northwestern David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Led by Vic Law’s game-high 18 points, Northwestern (7-4) put on another fabulous offensive display en route to a 84-50 win over the Valparaiso Crusaders (8-3). The Wildcats shot 45.9 percent from the field and 54.5 percent from deep in the victory.

Law was scalding hot to start the game, hitting his first four triples, one with a four-point play. He had 15 points in the first seven minutes of the game. As a team, Northwestern made its first six shots from beyond the arc, spreading the Crusaders’ defense thin. The Wildcats’ ball movement was impeccable, recording 12 assists on 16 made field goals in the first half. With Valparaiso sending double teams, Northwestern was able to pass the rock around until someone got open for a good look. Meanwhile, without leading scorer Tevonn Walker, the Crusaders just couldn’t generate enough offense to keep up with Northwestern.

The Wildcats’ offensive rebounding was also very effective. In the first half, Northwestern outscored the Crusaders 17-1 in second-chance points and 28-10 in the paint. Skelly had five offensive rebounds alone, as many as Valparaiso’s entire team. He also contributed to the Wildcats’ strong bench scoring, which has been an issue for the team all season.

On the other end, Northwestern’s defense was incredibly disruptive, holding the Crusaders without a field goal for over seven minutes in the middle of the first half. Valparaiso was quite sloppy with the ball, committing a couple traveling violations and dropping several passes. After one turnover that led to a Jordan Ash putback layup on the other end, head coach Matt Lottich called a timeout, clearly frustrated with his team’s carelessness on offense. The Wildcats turned the Crusaders’ 10 first half turnovers into 13 points and went into halftime with a 43-26 lead.

The second half went the same way. Northwestern continued its hot shooting from downtown and Valparaiso kept turning the ball over. In fact, the Crusaders committed 10 turnovers before recording an assist in the second half. Meanwhile, the Wildcats were able to increase their lead to as many as 39 points. Charlie Hall and Tino Malnati appeared for the second game in a row, but neither scored.

Overall, it was a great team win. Northwestern moved the ball well all game, stayed engaged defensively and continued to build momentum as the team’s nonconference schedule winds down. In games like these, the Wildcats are expected to win big. Tonight, the team delivered.

The Wildcats get a day of rest before heading to Wintrust Arena on Saturday to take on the DePaul Blue Demons (6-4).