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Northwestern overcomes B-Mac injury, slow start to pull away from Brown 95-73

Brown gave the Wildcats a scare, but a veteran Wildcats team locked in down the stretch for the victory.

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

Northwestern (10-5) earned a bittersweet win to cap non-conference play, beating Brown (60 95-73 on Saturday morning at Allstate Arena.

Dererk Pardon had a huge game against smaller defenders inside, amassing 18 points on 6-of-7 shooting to go with 8 rebounds, 4 blocks, and 3 assists. After sitting for most of the first half with foul trouble, Scottie Lindsey keyed a big Wildcat push in the second half and finished with 14 points and 3 assists.

The win, however, was overshadowed by a Bryant McIntosh injury. A day after quarterback Clayton Thorson went down clutching his leg in a Music City Bowl win, Northwestern’s offensive leader collided with Brown’s Zach Hunsaker going for a loose ball and appeared to injure his left knee. The senior looked to put a little weight on his leg as he was helped to the locker room, but he did not return.

In McIntosh’s stead, Northwestern got some key contributions from its bench. The Wildcats outscored Brown 33-18 in bench points, led by 11 from Anthony Gaines. The freshman also poured in 5 rebounds, 2 steals, and a huge dunk on a fast break.

Brown hung around for the first thirty minutes of the game behind great three-point shooting and impressive shot-making from Brandon Anderson and Desmond Cambridge, who combined for 48 points. No other Bear reached double figures.

The game started slow offensively, with Northwestern missing seven of their first 10 shots from the field and looked a step behind following the holiday break. In his first action in two weeks, Vic Law started 1-for-6 from the field. An Anthony Gaines three-point play helped get the lid off the basket and Northwestern took a 19-14 lead into the under-12 timeout.

Desmond Cambridge showed some impressive shot-making skills with ten early points from Brown. The two teams were nearly identical statistically over the game’s first 17 minutes and a Brandon Anderson layup following a steal made it 37-32 Northwestern and forced Chris Collins to call a timeout. The Wildcats were able to push the lead to nine on a couple occasions, but Brown battled back both times to keep the game in hand. Northwestern led 42-37 at the half. Eight Wildcats scored in the first half, and 10 of Northwestern’s 16 baskets came off of assists.

Foul trouble kept Scottie Lindsey and Vic Law on the bench for much of the first half. The duo combined for just 18 minutes in the first half and shot a combined 1-8 from the field.

Bryant McIntosh knocked down his first four shots from the field and finished the first half with 11 points, avenging a tough performance against Oklahoma last week. Dererk Pardon stuffed the stat sheet in his 18 first half minutes, with seven points, three rebounds, three assists, and two blocks.

With three fouls, Law didn’t start the second half, instead coming in after two minutes to relieve Anthony Gaines. He quickly picked up his fourth foul, and had to sit on the bench until the eight-minute mark. Things got even worse for the Wildcats as McIntosh collided with Hunsaker going for a loose ball and appeared to injure his left knee. The senior was helped to the locker room did not return. The Bears got a layup on the play to take a 49-46 lead with 17:14 to go.

Playing without its offensive engine and its best two-way player, Northwestern found itself in a back-and-forth battle. After an Anderson three gave Brown a seven-point lead, Lindsey got himself going with a dunk before back-to-back threes from Jordan Ash and Gavin Skelly to cap off an 8-0 run and force a Brown timeout. Moments later, Gaines slipped a perfect bounce pass to Ash on the fast break and the junior hammered home a dunk to give the Wildcats the lead again.

Brown’s offense was carried by Anderson and Cambridge, who combined for 40 of Brown’s first 57 points. When the backcourt duo wasn’t scoring, Northwestern took advantage. The Wildcat bench unit helped key a 23-6 run to push the Northwestern lead to 71-61, with Lindsey scoring his 1000th career point to cap the run.

From there, the two teams traded baskets back and forth. A huge Dererk Pardon dunk off a Law feed enlivened a sparse crowd at Allstate Arena and gave Northwestern an 81-70 lead at the under-four timeout. Moments later, Law hit a three and Brown coach Mike Martin was hit with a technical foul and the Wildcat lead was suddenly 15.

The Wildcats knocked down their free throws, finishing 23-of-28 for the game while Brown struggled to score in the game’s final five minutes.

Northwestern finishes non-conference play with its tenth win, but all eyes turn to McIntosh’s status for Tuesday’s matchup with Nebraska. The Wildcats managed to overcome adversity and finish the game against a mediocre Brown team, but the loss of McIntosh for conference play would be immense.