Northwestern suffered another setback against the Highlanders, falling 67-56 to their Big South opponents thanks to an offensive performance that was much worse than the final score showed.
Here’s the stock report from the brutal NU loss:
The sophomore had a slow first half, but took the offensive burden on his shoulders down the stretch as Northwestern tried to come back. Nance had 16 points and ten rebounds in a solid all-around outing as he continues to serve as this team’s go-to scoring option, and even showed plenty of leadership on the court. His growth continues to be one of the most positive storylines within the Wildcats’ early struggles.
Creating defensive havoc
The Highlanders matched the Wildcats’ turnover rate in the first half and then continued to give it away in the second frame, finishing with 13 turnovers to Northwestern’s ten. The zone defense that NU again went to for the majority of the game allowed some open shots, but mostly got the job done when it came to making Redford uncomfortable.
The first three and a half minutes
Pat Spencer scored seven points! The Wildcats led 12-4 and were 5-6 from the field! Everything was clicking! Unfortunately, Carlik Jones re-entered the game, Northwestern’s offense completely sputtered, and it was all downhill from there.
Honorable Mentions: Pat Spencer’s passing, Inside NU (for paying for my Uber to the game), the women’s team (who are 3-0) for coming out in force, Leroy Butts IV
Shooting (and offense in general)
At the end of the first half, the Wildcats had made just one of their last 20 (!) shots. Their strong start to the game defensively made this drought a little more bearable, but they ultimately ended the half 6-26 from the field. By the end of the contest, their free goal percentage had only improved to 32 percent. Worst of all, the Wildcats made just 14 percent of their three point attempts (compared to Radford’s 45 percent).
Right off the bat, Northwestern struggled to hang onto the ball. After turning it over 20 times last week against Providence, the Wildcats continued this pattern with eight giveaways in the first half alone. A combination of risky passes to the middle and minimum ball protection from the Wildcats gave the Highlanders plenty of opportunities to capitalize on.
After a promising bounce-back game against a solid Providence team, Northwestern returned to its Merrimack-level woes. Any hope built from the win against the Friars went pretty much right down the drain. It’s disappointing, but not completely unexpected. The scary part is that every Big Ten team Northwestern faces, outside of Nebraska, will be at least somewhat better than this (admittedly solid) Radford team. Buckle up!
Honorable Mentions: Free throw shooting (64 percent), the Northwestern student section (but can you blame them?), the general concept of offense, not getting Chick-Fil-A because Radford didn’t miss 8 free throws