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Rapid Reaction: Hopeless offense dooms Northwestern to 67-56 loss against Radford

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Good grief.

NCAA Basketball: Wisconsin at Northwestern Nuccio DiNuzzo-USA TODAY Sports

EVANSTON — Any momentum Northwestern (1-2) regained after a bounce-back win against Providence was completely lost on Tuesday, as the ‘Cats fell behind early and could not come back against mid-major Radford (2-2), falling 67-56 in a game that was worse than the final score showed.

While the Wildcats came out to a hot start, earning a 12-4 lead behind seven early points from Pat Spencer, Radford proceeded to go on a 17-0 run over the next 12 minutes to take a 21-12 lead with under five minutes remaining in the half.

Eventually, A.J. Turner hit a single free throw to end the 12-minute long scoring drought. Another free throw from Ryan Young and a three from Miller Kopp accounted for the remainder of the Wildcat scoring in the opening frame.

However, the Highlanders started to heat up from three and ended the first half with a 7-0 spurt. Radford led 31-17 at the break behind eight points and three assists from star point guard Carlik Jones, who began the game on the bench for undisclosed reasons.

The Wildcats finished out the half by making one of their last 20 field goal attempts, turning the ball over six times during that span as well. Not only was there a lid on the rim, but the shot selection was not up to par, hence the woeful first half performance on the offensive end.

The Wildcats’ first half defense, on the other hand, was solid and kept them in the game despite the extended drought. With the exception of a few lucky threes and and a few solid cuts to the basket, Radford struggled to find its offensive stride in the first, which kept the game closer than it should have been.

The beginning of the second half was a back-and-forth affair until Radford’s shooters started to rain down triples. The Highlanders made five three-pointers in the second half, which increased their lead to as much as 21 points when coupled with defense that largely continued to suffocate everybody but Pete Nance.

Travis Fields and Jones each had three makes from beyond the arc while Cle’von Greene hit both of his triples, the trio leading the way for the Highlanders offensively.

While Northwestern ultimately outscored Radford in the second half thanks to a late 15-2 Wildcat run and even put some decent numbers on the board in the last few minutes by playing the foul game, it was far too little too late.

Nance was the one bright spot for the NU offense, coming alive in the second half to finish with 16 points and ten rebounds after only a single basket in the first 20 minutes. Miller Kopp was next in line with 13 points, taking 15 shots to get there. Spencer had just a single second-half free throw but five assists on the game, half the team’s total.

Overall, Northwestern’s offensive performance was atrocious. The Wildcats shot 33.3 percent from the field (despite some late stat-padding) and were 3-21 from three compared to the Highlanders 40+ percent performance in both categories. They were even out-rebounded 36-30 by a smaller Radford team.

Northwestern will host Norfolk State on Friday at 7 p.m. in hopes of getting back on track in non-conference play.