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Northwestern-Rutgers Press Conference Notes

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Chris Collins, Bryant McIntosh and Gavin Skelly discuss Northwestern’s gritty comeback win.

Will Ragatz

Northwestern (20-7, 9-5 B1G) defeated Rutgers (13-15, 2-13 B1G) in dramatic fashion Saturday night, erasing a six-point deficit late in the second half en route to a 69-65 win in Scottie Lindsey’s return to game action. Bryant McIntosh led the way for the Wildcats with 18 points, including a go-ahead, pull-up three pointer with 58 seconds to play. With the win, Northwestern sits alone at fourth in the Big Ten after Michigan State lost to Purdue earlier in the day. Here are notes from the post-game press conference:

Chris Collins

  • On the game as a whole: “Just a huge win for us today. We all knew as team who Rutgers was. If you know this team, they’ve been playing tough all year. They actually remind me a lot of where we’ve been the last few years. They caused us a lot of problems today. We just hung in there. We just kept saying, ‘let’s find a way.’ Finally Gavin hit that three at the top of the key, I thought that was a huge shot. We had to grind this game out. We had to find a way.”
  • On the Welsh-Ryan crowd: “The crowd’s energy was huge for us. When you don’t get anything going in a game and you’re playing really hard, you get tired. To get the energy from the crowd, especially in the last four minutes of the game, that was big. I’m so happy the way people have been supporting this team. To have this support they’re getting now isn’t something we take lightly.”
  • On Scottie Lindsey: “He didn’t do any exercise for three weeks. You lose conditioning, you lose shape. For him to play 24 minutes, I was mad at myself, I felt like I played him too much in the first half. Hopefully we can get him back to being the Scottie that we saw at the beginning of the year.”
  • On Gavin Skelly’s late three-pointers: “Gavin’s a guy that wears his emotions on his sleeve. There were no two bigger shots in the game than the two threes he hit. I thought he gave us huge minutes tonight.”
  • On being in new territory: “All this stuff is new for all of us. We’re doing things that haven't been done in a while and we’re excited about that. We didn't defend to the level we needed to for 30 minutes. We did for the last eight. We wanted respect, its something we've earned over the last few years.”
  • On his demeanor during the his team’s scoring drought midway through the second half: “I tried to be very calm with the guys to keep our composure. I didn’t want the guys to panic. We couldn't throw it in the ocean, we kept saying ‘lets get one stop that leads to two stops.’ We just leaned on each other. It’s a long year, you're not gonna play great every night. A lot of our inefficiency was Rutgers playing well.”
  • On securing defensive rebounds: “Rutgers is one of the best rebounding teams in our league. They got 18 offensive rebounds, that’s what they do. We gotta do what I call gang rebound, rebound as a team. We gotta all dig em out. We can't rely on two guys because we are undersized. We gotta do it with our heart and our will.”
  • On closing out games: “I think it’s just an experience we've gone through. You get to that point by going through tough times and getting angry about it.”

Bryant McIntosh

  • On his go-ahead three-pointer with 58 seconds left: “With the three, I came down and coach was calling for a drag in early offense, and they hard-hedged and I got around the big and the guard wasn't there in time. As soon as I gathered the ball, I knew I’d hit it. First you wanna celebrate, but there’s still a lot of time left. Just really resilient, you gotta be really proud of the guys. We got stops the last eight minutes that we had to.”
  • On playing in meaningful games in mid-February: “This is really different considering we’re playing meaningful games this time of year. Most of the time we’re playing for just respect this time of the year. The thing about Rutgers is they’re building, and they play really hard. They have nothing to lose. We had to win this game, to find a way to win was huge.”
  • On the Welsh-Ryan crowd: “Our crowds have been unreal this year. They've really improved. The atmosphere is unbelievable right now.”
  • On the end of the game: “We were down six, it was more we’re gonna find out what we’re all about. In that situation in the past we would fold. We wouldn’t win a game like this in the past. But we buckled down and got some stops. We’re older, more mature. We just believe we should win. We felt like we shouldn't lose this game, and that’s something that’s changed in the past year, year-and-a-half. A little bit of a resolve in our team.”
  • On Gavin Skelly’s two three-pointers late in the second half: “It says a lot about his character. It says more about the work he's put in in the last 48 hours. For him to stick around, that’s what happens. When you put the work in, the ball finds you.”
  • On Scottie Lindsey being back: “Just having him out there brings a lot of confidence. It takes some pressure off me. He can space the floor, he can score, he just does so many things for us.”

Gavin Skelly

  • On his shooting slump: “I was in a huge shooting slump. After practice everyday I meet with the coaches and shoot two, three hundred threes. Just keeping shooting them, having the confidence.”
  • On Rutgers: “Their guards are really good. When we help on the ball, their bigs clean up everything. We knew offensively we could score, but it really came down to defense for this team.”
  • On the Welsh-Ryan crowd: “This crowd that we have at Northwestern is amazing. I don't know if it’s ever been like this. It gets me going. Welsh-Ryan is an amazing place to play in now.”
  • On going through difficult stretches in games: “Just keeping my spirits high. I have gatorade chews, just a lot of sugar, that keeps my energy high. Or I’ll just have somebody tell me a joke.”