Men’s Basketball: Northwestern cruises past Mississippi Valley State 94-63 in opener

Joseph Wilkinson, Reporter

Men’s Basketball

Northwestern dominated from beginning to end on its way to a 94-63 season-opening victory over Mississippi Valley State on Friday.

The Wildcats (1-0) were led by sophomore Vic Law, who had a career-high 18 points while shooting 7-for-10 from the field in 26 minutes. Along with finishing a crowd-pleasing alley-oop, Law was hot from behind the arc and canned 3-of-4 threes.

“I thought he played with a smile on his face,” coach Chris Collins said. “Just to see him relax and having fun playing basketball, I knew he was going to play well after the first couple minutes.”

Law started the game with a mid-range jumper to get the scoring started for the Cats, and continued to lead the team throughout. The forward missed last year due to injury.

“I worked on (my mid-range game) quite a lot,” Law said. “Being out you kind of have a year — and a year is a long time to work on things, so I kind of worked on everything.”

Law also notched six rebounds.

Senior forward Sanjay Lumpkin was also a force on the boards for the team, grabbing eight rebounds to lead the team. Lumpkin added 11 points on 3-of-4 shooting from the field and 5-of-6 at the free throw line.

On the defensive end, NU held the Delta Devils (0-1) to 28 points in the first half and held a 46-28 lead at the break, allowing Collins to use much of his bench.

Freshman guard Isiah Brown came in and played 18 minutes, scoring 11 points to secure the NU victory.

Junior guard Scottie Lindsey started and provided the offensive spark for the team in the first half, scoring 13 points in the period and finishing with 17.

“I was just ready to shoot,” Lindsey said. “We knew that we’d be able to drive, but we knew that when we drove, they were going to be collapsing a lot, so we knew drive-and kicks would be open.”

Backcourt mate and fellow junior Bryant McIntosh was mostly quiet, scoring 11 points and dishing out four assists. McIntosh struggled in the first half from the field, making only one of his five field goal attempts.

The Cats showed a different look on the defensive end, playing a man-to-man defense in a departure from the hybrid matchup zone-like scheme they ran throughout much of conference play last year.

Offensively, NU’s 94 points were more than it put up in all but two games last season. The Cats shot 50 percent from the field as a team and 42 percent from behind the arc. The home team also dominated on the glass, out-rebounding the Delta Devils 50-32 and grabbing 14 offensive boards.

Largely absent from the rotation was sophomore wing Aaron Falzon, who played only 10 minutes and did not score. Falzon started 29 games as a freshman and logged almost 25 minutes per game. Collins said Falzon is dealing with knee injuries.

“He’s gutting it out,” Collins said. “He’s not moving like he normally does, but it hasn’t effected his heart and his energy.”

The first man off the bench was junior forward Gavin Skelly, who finished with seven points. Skelly chipped in on the defensive end as well, blocking four shots and grabbing five rebounds.

The competition gets somewhat stiffer for NU in its next matchup on Monday against Eastern Washington, which won 18 games last season — 10 more than the Delta Devils.

This story was updated at 10:12 to include quotes.

Correction: A previous version of this story stated Gavin Skelly had nine points. He had seven.

Twitter: @joe_f_wilkinson