Crawford’s 26 points lead Northwestern to comfortable victory against Mississippi Valley State

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Crawford’s 26 points lead Northwestern to comfortable victory against Mississippi Valley State

Redshirt senior Drew Crawford dives for the ball in a game earlier this season. Crawford led Northwestern with 26 points in the Wildcats' win against Mississippi Valley State.

Redshirt senior Drew Crawford dives for the ball in a game earlier this season. Crawford led Northwestern with 26 points in the Wildcats' win against Mississippi Valley State.

Daily file photo by Brian Lee

Redshirt senior Drew Crawford dives for the ball in a game earlier this season. Crawford led Northwestern with 26 points in the Wildcats' win against Mississippi Valley State.

Daily file photo by Brian Lee

Daily file photo by Brian Lee

Redshirt senior Drew Crawford dives for the ball in a game earlier this season. Crawford led Northwestern with 26 points in the Wildcats' win against Mississippi Valley State.

Alex Putterman, Assistant Sports Editor

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Senior forward Drew Crawford has played many of these types of games.

Games against inferior mid-major teams that don’t quite succumb to blowout but don’t pose a serious threat either. Games in which the outcome is assumed long before the final buzzer but not entirely decided until the final few minutes.

“You can’t let up,” Crawford said. “These teams are capable of going on big runs. That’s the biggest thing. You’ve got to make sure you don’t let up.”

Behind Crawford’s 26 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, Northwestern (6-5) topped Mississippi Valley State (3-7) 86-64 at Welsh-Ryan Arena on Monday.

The Wildcats had their way against a poor Delta Devils defense, scoring 44 first-half points on their way to their second highest point total of the season.

“For us to see 86 points tonight,” coach Chris Collins said, “I think it was a really good confidence-builder for us.”

NU center Alex Olah dominated an undersized Mississippi Valley State frontcourt on both ends. The sophomore tied his season-high with 18 points and added seven rebounds and four blocks.

Freshman forward Sanjay Lumpkin scored 13 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, including four on the offensive end.

On the perimeter, the Cats were paced by Crawford and sophomore guard Tre Demps, who set a new career-high with 18 points. Demps has hit double figures in four of the team’s last five games.

“I just slowed down a little bit,” Demps said. “Slowing down, watching film, getting reps in practice. Those are some of the things I’ve done to get in a rhythm.”

The Cats’ 86 points came without their second leading scorer, junior guard JerShon Cobb, who missed the game with a sprained ankle. Collins said Cobb wanted to play Monday but “wasn’t ready” and is still “day-by-day.”

Junior Dave Sobolewski returned to the starting lineup in Cobb’s absence but continued the terrible shooting that has plagued his season. After missing all four of his attempts from the field Monday, the point guard is shooting a lowly 29.5 percent on the year.

“Right now he’s just in a rut, and it’s gotten to him a little bit,” Collins said. “He’s a big key in what we’re doing going forward. He’s a veteran guy, he’s our most true point guard. We need him to play well.”

But Crawford more than picked up the slack.

“I thought Drew Crawford was just a star tonight,” Collins said. “With JerShon out, he led us in every way.”

The Delta Devils hung around until a late-game Cats run by shooting 7-17 from long-range. Guard Cameron Dobbs sunk four of his five 3-point attempts and guard-forward James Currington led the team with 14 points.

Perhaps Mississippi Valley State’s happiest highlight came as the halftime buzzer sounded. After a Crawford 3-pointer with seconds left in the period, the Delta Devils inbounded the ball to guard DeAngelo Priar, who chucked a bomb off the backboard from past half-court.

But the Delta Devils never closed within single digits in the second half, and eventually the Cats extended their lead out of reach, winning by their second-largest margin of the season.

The victory wasn’t a flashy one over an impressive opponent, just another comfortable win in which they didn’t let up.

Email: asputt@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @AlexPutt02

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