EVANSTON, Ill. — Well, Northwestern won.
After going 11-of-30 on threes in their season-opener, the Wildcats (2-0) went 4-of-22 from beyond-the-arc Monday in a 63-51 win over American (1-1).
Vic Law paced the Wildcats throughout, especially in the first half when Northwestern’s offense was dismal. He scored 16 of his game-high 26 points in the first 20 minutes in a 9-of-19 shooting effort.
After scoring 20 points in his first game in a Northwestern uniform, Ryan Taylor struggled throughout, shooting 3-of-9 from the floor and 1-of-6 from three.
Yet again, Northwestern fell victim to a slow start. A back-and-forth first half plagued by a lot of missed shots prevented Northwestern from gaining any momentum. It was not until the last four minutes of the half that Northwestern was able to find its rhythm, when it went on a 7-0 run to take a 38-31 lead at half.
While NU’s new offense may create more opportunities for its wings to create, it won’t be effective until the Wildcats start to make shots, especially from three-point range. The Wildcats shot just 36 percent from the field on the night.
By the second half, the rest of the NU offense slowly started to contribute. While Law continued to dominate, Ryan Taylor, Dererk Pardon and AJ Turner all eventually found a rhythm after struggling early on.
American came back to tie the game midway through the second half, but an 8-0 Northwestern run gave the Wildcats a 53-45 lead, which ultimately held.
Northwestern’s defense was fine, but not great. While it held American to 51 points, it gave up a lot of open looks and got lucky with a lot of missed shots by the Eagles, who shot 9-of-23 in the first half. Northwestern held American’s leading scorer Sa’eed Nelson to only 10 points, but both Dererk Pardon and Barret Benson struggled against center Mark Gasperini, who led the Eagles with 17 points.
It was another tough night for first-years Miller Kopp and Pete Nance. Despite starting, Kopp saw the floor sparingly, and Nance only saw the court for three minutes. Ryan Greer, on the other hand, saw decent minutes and scored his first career bucket in the first half. Greer was a part of Collins’ core lineup — with Law, Taylor, Pardon and Turner — for chunks of the game. Curiously, Greer played 23 minutes, while Jordan Ash played just 4.
Northwestern will play Binghamton at Welsh-Ryan Arena Friday at 6:00 p.m.