Evanston, Ill. — Four low-major opponents, four comfortable wins for the Wildcats.
On Thursday night, Northwestern (4-0, 0-0 B1G) continued its unblemished play, defeating Fairleigh Dickinson (0-2) 82-46 inside Welsh-Ryan Arena.
Ryan Young led the led the way for NU — accumulating 20 points off the bench — while Pete Nance thrived yet again, collecting 19 points and 11 rebounds. On the flip side, Ibrahim Wattara fought foul trouble to compile 12 points and five ‘boards for the Knights.
To begin the game, the Wildcats went on an 11-0 run thanks to its veteran leaders in the frontcourt. Nance opened the scoring with an emphatic dunk and contributed six points in the spurt, while Robbie Beran evaded the defense on a layup before knocking down a three.
Farleigh Dickinson, on the other hand, had little luck early on. The Knights started 2-for-7 from the field and endured a six-minute stretch between points, but ultimately regained momentum via an and-one from Devon Dunn. FDU cut the deficit to seven points, yet forward Ryan Young dominated down low, growing the NU lead to 11.
With 15:34 in the first half, Elyjah Williams got his first taste of action against his former squad. The grad transfer missed all four of his shots but saw 20 minutes of action.
All game, Chris Collins’ defense truly stifled Fairleigh Dickinson. In the first half alone, the ‘Cats tallied four steals, forced 11 turnovers and drew two charging fouls on their opponents. Overall, NU garnered a whopping 21 points off turnovers.
Ty Berry spelled the Wildcats’ shooting struggles early on by hitting two from beyond the arc, and then the ‘Cats went showtime: a Pete Nance steal turned into a no-look pass from Boo Buie back to Nance, who finished the play by dropping the hammer. Fairleigh Dickinson went on a 7-to-4 run to close the period — punctuated by a Dunn last-second three — yet Northwestern ended the first half leading 40-20 and in full control of the action on the hardwood.
The second half started the way the first did — a Pete Nance bucket, this one of the three point variety. The ‘Cats went on a 12-to-4 run, highlighted by a Beran three, a Buie and-one and a rare triple from freshman Casey Simmons — one of his two on the evening.
Throughout the remainder of the latter period, Northwestern continued to coast. The Wildcats led by no fewer than 26 points, and Nance secured his double-double with 10:06 remaining. From there, players usually buried deep in Collins’ rotation made their way to the court, including freshman forward Brooks Barnhizer — who saw his first time all year in the Thursday night showdown. It was just a matter of minutes before the clock ran out and the ‘Cats won with ease.
All in all, Northwestern has handled its business through its first two weeks of play — something which cannot be said of Michigan, Illinois and Maryland, ranked Big Ten teams who have already dropped games early in the 2021-22 season.
However, NU will soon face its first real test of the year. The team next takes the court in Newark, NJ, on Nov. 22 as the Wildcats battle with the 4-0 Providence Friars in the Roman Legends Classic at 8:30 p.m. CT.