Men’s Basketball: Missed opportunities doom Northwestern in home loss

Scottie+Lindsey+drives+past+an+opponent.+The+Cats%E2%80%99+leading+scorer+was+unable+to+convert+from+deep+against+Minnesota.

Jacob Morgan/The Daily Northwestern

Scottie Lindsey drives past an opponent. The Cats’ leading scorer was unable to convert from deep against Minnesota.

Garrett Jochnau, Sports Editor


Men’s Basketball


Northwestern’s 70-66 loss to Minnesota will go down as a missed opportunity for the Wildcats. The Golden Gophers are off to a hot start, but after going 2-16 in Big Ten play last season, they were tabbed as a beatable opponent in NU’s quest to legitimize itself as a conference contender.

Instead, the Cats’ inability to finish open looks ultimately guaranteed their defeat.

NU (12-4, 1-2 Big Ten) entered halftime shooting 5-of-11 from deep. Junior guard Bryant McIntosh was in a groove and the offense was creating consistent looks to counter a surging attack from Minnesota (14-2, 2-1).

But the second half sang a different tune as the Cats’ shooting dried up. Junior forward Gavin Skelly missed a series of open looks from 3, ultimately finishing 0-of-6 from beyond the arc. Leading scorer Scottie Lindsey struggled to convert from long range too, going 0-of-5 from long range in a contest when a strong performance from him was badly needed.

When the final buzzer sounded, NU had missed 14 of 15 three-point looks in the second half — a number of which were wide open.

“One for 15 in the second half from 3: It’s going to be hard to win a game if you do that,” coach Chris Collins said. “I’ve got to look at the tape, but I want to say at least 10 of those were wide open.”

It wasn’t that the Golden Gophers changed their strategy. As Collins noted, the visitors deployed the same man-to-man defense that NU broke down in the opening stretch.

Quite simply, the Cats couldn’t convert when given opportunities.

“We had plenty of loose 50-50 balls that we didn’t get,” McIntosh said. “We had plenty of open shots we just didn’t make. And that’s part of the game.”

There was little hope for NU to find a rhythm in the paint, with Minnesota’s big men limiting the Cats’ chances inside. Though sophomore center Dererk Pardon managed 9 points — 8 of which came in the second half — the big man never emerged as a consistent option.

While the team continued to shoot with confidence, it was unable to snap out of the funk in time. McIntosh eventually connected from deep with 14 seconds left to bring the Cats within 2, but it proved to be too little too late.

In the end, a second half brimming with missed opportunities defined a loss that will hinder NU as it looks to secure the program’s first NCAA Tournament bid.

“We just didn’t make open shots,” Pardon said. “Plain and simple.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @GarrettJochnau

Comments