Northwestern (2-0) took care of business and cruised to an easy 111-66 victory over Chicago State (0-5) on Saturday evening behind a team effort and standout performances from multiple individual players. The Wildcats’ 111-point performance is the first time the team broke triple-digits since December 21, 2015 against Sacred Heart and is its highest point total since 2000.
Five different Wildcats scored double-digit points in the matchup. Chase Audige led the way with 20 points, eight rebounds and four assists while Robbie Beran followed close behind with 19 points. Miller Kopp, Pete Nance and Ty Berry all added 16, 14 and 12 each. Although neither player reached double-digit scoring, Anthony Gaines contributed a crucial 12 rebounds, and Boo Buie led the way in assists with seven and only two turnovers.
It was an entertaining start to the game as both Northwestern and Chicago State looked to push the ball. The frenetic pace saw Northwestern jump out to a 8-2 lead, but the Cougars quickly answered to tie the game at nine.
The Wildcats then responded with a 15-2 run to take a 24-11 lead aided by big plays from Beran and Ryan Young. Then, Kopp started to heat up and hit two of his three first-half triples to extend NU’s lead to 20 with six minutes left in the frame.
After taking its largest lead of the half, NU faced foul trouble with Gaines, Beran and Young all picking up two in the first 20 minutes, which allowed Chicago State to cut the lead to 14 against the Wildcat bench. Xavier Johnson led the way in that stretch for the Cougars with 13 points and connecting on three of his seven attempts from behind the arc.
Northwestern ended the half with a 3:35 scoring drought in which it shot 1-for-11 from the field but maintained a 51-35 lead at the break. Given the rapid pace of the first half, the ‘Cats successfully took care of the ball, as they did not have a turnover for nearly 15 minutes.
To start the second half, the Cougars came out in a 3-2 zone, which took Northwestern a possession or two to figure out. However, Beran showcased his passing ability with two dimes to Audige that broke down the zone, leading to fouls at the rim. NU continued to get easy baskets inside against the zone while pushing the pace in transition.
Audige struggled to shoot the ball, connecting on just 5-of-17 attempts, but his infectious energy on both ends cannot be understated, as he had 10 early second half points while aggressively hitting the glass to help NU further extend its lead.
Northwestern dominated inside, leading Chicago State to commit six fouls that put the ‘Cats in the bonus by the 14:08 mark. Northwestern shot 28-for-37 at the line on the night with Audige shooting an impressive 9-of-10. Given the Cougars’ lack of size, they were also manhandled by Northwestern on the glass 29-to-7 in the second half.
Similar to his performance against Arkansas Pine-Bluff, Berry again found his shot in the second half scoring 14 on 6-for-12 shooting after being held scoreless in the first half. Not only did he hit threes, but he also showed his ability to get to the rim and finish through contact. His second-half shooting helped NU distance itself by 34 with eight minutes to play, and the Wildcats didn’t look back.
Levelle Zeigler and Johnson led the way for the Cougars with 18 and 15 points each.
The Wildcats will host Pittsburgh (1-1) on Wednesday at 8:15 p.m. CT for its third of four nonconference matchup.