Freshman reserves Scottie Lindsey and Gavin Skelly gave Northwestern crucial bench production Sunday in the team’s 66-61 overtime win against Iowa.
In the first half, Lindsey’s active defense and outside shooting gave the Wildcats a big lift. He also scored the bucket that put NU ahead for good with 1:29 left in overtime.
Lindsey finished with 7 points, six rebounds, one steal and a career-high three blocks.
After one block he shook his head at the Iowa player to emphasize the rejection.
“Seeing his fire was great. When he plays like that he’s really good,” coach Chris Collins said. “Sometimes he can be a little bit too chill for me. That’s part of his growth, learning how to play with that fire all the time.”
The Cats needed an energy boost early in the second half, and this time Skelly provided the answer.
The 6-foot-8-inch forward played just seven minutes, which all came in one stretch early in the second half. But those were his best seven minutes of the season.
Skelly posted 3 points and four rebounds in that stretch while making big plays on both ends of the floor.
“Coach has basically told me I’m not good if I don’t have energy,” Skelly said. “It’s true — I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t have that energy. That’s something that I can bring to the table all the time.”
Skelly had one block and forced or assisted on three additional misses during that stretch.
He and sophomore forward Sanjay Lumpkin teamed up on a driving Iowa senior forward Aaron White to force a miss. After the Hawkeyes got the offensive rebound, Skelly’s pressure defense forced Iowa junior center Adam Woodbury to travel.
A few possessions later, Skelly and Lindsey contested White’s dunk attempt to force a miss on what would have been an emphatic slam.
“Gavin Skelly really uplifted us,” Collins said.
Skelly and Lindsey were not the stars Sunday — those were junior center Alex Olah, junior guard Tre Demps and freshman guard Bryant McIntosh, a trio that carried the team particularly down the stretch and in overtime.
Other bench players stepped up as well in the win.
Senior guard Dave Sobolewski made two 3-pointers in the first half and then made two clutch free throws in overtime.
“Sobo, that’s why he is a senior and a leader,” Olah said. “He’s one of the best free throw shooters on our team. We had confidence in him.”
Sophomore forward Nathan Taphorn connected on a 3-pointer in his first game back from injury to give NU a 50-48 lead in the final minute of regulation.
“If you look at everybody who played in the game, everybody made a play to help us win,” Collins said.
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