Men’s Basketball: Northwestern’s perimeter shooting woes force offense to turn to Olah

Dan Waldman, Reporter

Men’s Basketball

Prior to playing Mississippi Valley State on Tuesday, the Wildcats shot a respectable 40.2 percent from three. But Northwestern (9-1) struggled with its shooting in the Cats’ 78-48 win over the Delta Devils (0-12), only making 7-of-28 of its 3-point shots.

In the team’s last game against Chicago State on Sunday, NU made 15-of-36 — or 41.7 percent — of its 3-point attempts. On Tuesday, with the Cats having trouble finishing from outside, NU relied on senior center Alex Olah to contribute a large portion of the scoring from inside the paint.

“Alex certainly was a story and should have been with the size,” coach Chris Collins said. “But as you guys know that have been covering us, that hasn’t always been the case with the undersized teams. But he was really a force down there.”

NU scored 46 percent of its points from inside the paint, and Olah finished with 21 points while shooting 8-of-11 from the field.

The Cats have relied heavily on the team’s 3-point shooting ability this season — averaging 26.2 attempts per game. NU had to make adjustments offensively against Mississippi Valley State, including using Olah’s height advantage to spark the rest of the offense.

“Coming into this game (Olah’s height) was really something that was really stressed in our preparation,” said sophomore guard Bryant McIntosh. “They were smaller inside so we just really wanted to take advantage of that.”

The lone bright spot in the team’s perimeter shooting came from freshman forward Aaron Falzon, who shot 4-of-9 from deep and finished with 12 points. Falzon’s shooting performance improved significantly from Sunday, when he only shot 1-of-5 from beyond the arc.

But despite Falzon’s performance, Collins said he wants to use this game as an example for the offense moving forward.

“I thought in our last game — we showed our guys a lot of tape — we really settled for threes,” Collins said. “I think 18 of our first 23 or 24 shots were threes the other night. We’ve shown our guys on film how many times we had a chance to get it to Alex. I think we did a better job of that.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @dan_waldman