Men’s Basketball: Wildcats struggle offensively, fall to Michigan State


Daily file photo by Rachel Dubner

Scottie Lindsey attempts a jump shot. The junior followed up a career night against Penn State with a quiet performance against Michigan State.

Dan Waldman, Reporter

Men’s Basketball

Shooting woes plagued Northwestern on Friday in the team’s 61-52 loss to Michigan State, as the Wildcats put on their worst scoring performance of the season and suffered their first defeat since Nov. 22.

NU (12-3, 1-1 Big Ten) couldn’t get the lid off the rim against the Spartans (10-5, 2-0 Big Ten), digging an insurmountable hole with 35.8 percent shooting. Michigan State bullied the visiting Cats early in the win, snapping NU’s nine-game winning streak and handing the Cats their first conference loss of the season.

“It kind of turned into a bit of a slugfest in terms of scoring and the pace and all that,” coach Chris Collins said. “But Michigan State was just a little bit tougher than we were tonight. We got off to a really tough start.”

NU has seen early leads dissipate during the month of December, but for just the fourth time this season, the Cats were the ones playing for an extended period from behind on Friday. With NU in dire need of a scoring boost, junior guards Bryant McIntosh and Scottie Lindsey failed to rescue the struggling Cats, shooting a combined 6-of-25 from the field.

“It was hard for us because we were playing so small, so it’s hard to get anything down low or in the paint,” Collins said. “So we’re shooting a lot of jump shots, we’re trying to get the ball to the basket and drivers … Our main guys just had a tough night shooting.”

Despite going into halftime with just a 7-point edge, Michigan State dictated early play, leading 23-6 with just over eight minutes remaining in the first half. But a pair of 3-pointers from Lindsey allowed the team to crawl back, and a corner 3 from senior forward Nathan Taphorn with just under three minutes before the break brought the game within 10 points.

The Spartans shot 54 percent from the field going into halftime, but the Cats pushed out on shooters and contested shots in the paint, limiting Michigan State to just 32 percent shooting in the second half.

But despite some success attacking the rim in the second half, the Cats went cold down the stretch and made just eight field goals overall after halftime.

“(We) dug ourselves a 19-point hole and then to our guys’ credit, I thought we really battled and got back to four, 48-44,” Collins said. “We had about three or four possessions maybe when it was a four-point game, and I just didn’t think we executed real well.”

In the end NU just didn’t have the depth or scoring to close out the game. Junior forward Gavin Skelly fouled out with 6:10 left, leaving senior forward Sanjay Lumpkin and Taphorn to share the center role in the final minutes of regulation.

After an extended dry spell, NU finally scored a field goal in the final minutes but couldn’t capitalize on a late travel violation before both McIntosh and Lumpkin fouled out.

The late foul trouble exposed the team’s need for injured sophomore center Dererk Pardon’s return. Collins said Spartans forward Nick Ward created problems by drawing fouls from the Cats’ bigs.

“We were a big man short not having Pardon,” Collins said. “So (Ward) getting (Barret) Benson and Skelly in major foul trouble forced us to play real small for a big stretch of the game.”

NU will have a chance to get back into the win column against Minnesota on Jan. 5.

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