Northwestern basketball easily overpowers Arkansas-Pine Bluff

Katherine Driessen

Northwestern hit the offensive cruise control as it downed Arkansas-Pine Bluff 71-45 in its season home opener on Friday night.

After narrowly escaping a resilient Texas-Pan American on Wednesday evening, the Wildcats seized the early 9-2 lead over the Golden Lions and never looked back.

Sophomore guard Drew Crawford and junior forward John Shurna scored a team-high 17 points apiece and senior point guard Michael Thompson pitched in 11 before coach Bill Carmody pulled out his starters and allowed NU’s bench to take over late in the second half.

After opening its first two non-conference games on the road, the comfortable lead offered relief for NU’s go-to players, especially Shurna, who entered the matchup leading the Big Ten with a 25.5 points-per-game average. The junior was all business in the first half when he put away his 17 points to help NU enter the break with a 44-25 lead.

With Thompson taking a rare break at the end of the game, freshman guard JerShon Cobb ran the offense, doling out three assists and pitching in on defense to force four turnovers on the night. Sophomore guard Alex Marcotullio contributed seven points and senior forward Ivan Peljusic put up five of his own after coming off the bench.