It wasn’t pretty, but Northwestern got the job done in a critical crosstown non-conference matchup.
Scottie Lindsey’s 7 threes and 25 points saved Northwestern (8-4) in its first-ever trip to face DePaul (6-5) in the Blue Demons’ new Wintrust Arena, including a stunning deep three-pointer to put Northwestern up five late. With Vic Law departing early in the second half due to an injury, Lindsey’s incredible performance canceled out 33 points from DePaul’s Max Strus and earned Northwestern a critical road win. DePaul also helped out by missing a boatload of free throws.
The Wildcats did not start as sharply as they did against Chicago State and Valparaiso. DePaul was definitely up to the task early on, answering all of Northwestern’s opening moves. DePaul entered the under-12 up 17-16 after four straight missed shots from Northwestern. Northwestern also started the game with some early foul trouble. Lindsey and Skelly both picked up two fouls within 8 minutes.
Northwestern’s offense continued to struggle after the TV timeout, and DePaul extended its lead to 21-16 with an 8-0 run. DePaul’s defensive effort and hustle plays caught Northwestern a bit off-guard. Vic Law also spent a significant amount of time on the bench with an apparent illness. The offense ground to a complete halt, scoring just 2 points over a 7-minute stretch littered with turnovers and offensive fouls. However, DePaul could not take full advantage of Northwestern’s ineptitude, missing an easy dunk and committing plenty of turnovers themselves. There were 19 turnovers in the first 15 minutes.
DePaul finally found something on offense with back-to-back threes from Strus, which extended the lead to 30-21 with 4:37 left. Law answered with a much-needed three. Northwestern rallied to make it 33-28 by halftime, but the Wildcats were in a ton of foul trouble. The team had 13 personals in total and four of the starters had two. Still, they were lucky to be only down by 5. Also, the basketball was very bad.
The basketball got even worse at the beginning of the second half. Vic Law missed a layup and then landed awkwardly behind the basket. He failed to get up and headed back to the trainer’s office. Meanwhile, play was continued, for some reason, and DePaul hit a three to go up 36-28. Yikes.
Northwestern’s offense and Bryant McIntosh in particular continued to struggle. DePaul bailed Northwestern out, however, by going 3-of-13 from the line through the first 27 minutes. A Jordan Ash three cut DePaul’s lead to 43-39 with plenty of time left, even with Law on the bench. That helped a key 8-0 run for Northwestern that put the Wildcats back in the lead. The quality of the game improved after that
DePaul’s struggles at the free throw line began to haunt the Blue Demons as the Wildcats clawed their way back. Without Law on the floor, Northwestern still managed to get quality shots and a Lindsey three around the 8-minute mark put Northwestern up 51-47.
That lead would be trimmed to 53-50 when Gavin Skelly fouled out after going up for a board. Strus hit another three to make it a one-point Northwestern lead with less than 4 minutes to go. The teams traded scores, keeping the slim Northwestern advantage.
Then, Scottie Lindsey pulled up from NBA range to hit his seventh three. That shot made it 62-57 with less than a minute remaining. Unfortunately, Anthony Gaines fouled Max Strus from beyond the arc and Strus hit all three free throws. Northwestern’s next possession ended in a horrendous shot clock violation, continuing the recent trend of terrible late-game possessions.
DePaul had a shot to win the game, but Eli Cain’s layup attempt clanked off the rim and Northwestern corralled the board to seal the 62-60 victory. Northwestern survived the best DePaul had to offer and secured its fourth consecutive win over DePaul in the crosstown contest.