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Rapid Reaction: Dominant in second half after NU starts slow, ‘Cats handle High Point 95-60

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The big men led the way tonight.

It was a purple-on-purple Friday night in Welsh-Ryan as the Northwestern Wildcats rolled to 2-0, securing a 95-60 win over High Point (1-1) after a slow first half.

The win was headlined by big men Ryan Young, who finished a perfect 8-for-8 from the field with 20 points, and Pete Nance, who had an explosive 14-point five-minute stretch to open the second half and finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Boo Buie had another solid game as both a scorer and facilitator, scoring 19 and racking up 7 assists. John-Michael Wright led the way for the Panthers with 23 points, 9 assists and five boards.

The ‘Cats started off incredibly slow, falling behind 12-6 at the under-16 minute media timeout on account of an 8-0 run by High Point. By the 12-minute mark, the Panthers couldn’t seem to miss, as John-Michael Wright led the way with nine early points to put the Panthers up 19-12. An 0-for-7 start from three also didn’t help the Wildcats, who quickly faced their largest deficit of the season thus far.

Fortunately for the Chris Collins and company, the Panthers exited the under 12 timeout a little too physical for the officials’ liking, and they reached the double bonus in fouls by the time there were eight minutes remaining in the half. This boded well for Northwestern, as the ‘Cats were able to get to the foul line a fair amount and make it 21-18 at the under-eight timeout.

Finally, after 13 minutes without a three, Northwestern’s Boo Buie finally put one in from behind the arc, bringing the game even at 21. Ryan Greer hit back-to-back threes soon thereafter to give Northwestern a 29-23 lead, which contributed to a 17-2 run for the Cats.

To Collins’ dismay, the Cats finished the half in a similar manner as they started, as High Point went on 7-0 run to close things out, leaving NU with only a 34-33 lead at the break.

To open up the second half Pete Nance quickly outdid his total from the first, scoring six points in the opening two minutes of play. A minute later, Ty Berry finally got his first field goal to go down with a three point basket to put the the Cats up 45-40.

Pete Nance continued his second half dominance to put him at 16, after scoring a mere two points in the opening half, to tie him with Ryan Young as the team’s leading scorer just 5 minutes into the half. A HPU player finally broke Northwestern’s 15-0 run by making the second of two foul shots, to, in a sense, take away free promotional Chick-fil-a chicken sandwiches from a mostly-filled section of hungry Northwestern students.

Unfortunately for Tubby Smith’s team, the Wildcats followed the free throw up by scoring another six straight, to put the team up 63-41 eight minutes into the half. The Cats held a lead of 20 or more the rest way, despite Smith’s decision to press for the remainder of the half.

The highlight of the night came with under a minute left, as Elyjah Williams scored his sole points with a colossal slam, to cap off a 61 point second half for the Cats. When all was said and done, NU had secured a 35-point win.

Northwestern will look to improve to 3-0 against the New Orleans Privateers when they return to Welsh-Ryan Arena on November 16 at 7 p.m. C.T.