Men’s Basketball: Northwestern crumbles in second half of loss to Minnesota

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Men’s Basketball: Northwestern crumbles in second half of loss to Minnesota

Bryant McIntosh looks to pass the ball. The point guard’s hot start wasn’t enough for Northwestern on Thursday.

Bryant McIntosh looks to pass the ball. The point guard’s hot start wasn’t enough for Northwestern on Thursday.

Jacob Morgan/The Daily Northwestern

Bryant McIntosh looks to pass the ball. The point guard’s hot start wasn’t enough for Northwestern on Thursday.

Jacob Morgan/The Daily Northwestern

Jacob Morgan/The Daily Northwestern

Bryant McIntosh looks to pass the ball. The point guard’s hot start wasn’t enough for Northwestern on Thursday.

Ben Pope, Reporter

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Men’s Basketball


Northwestern has often relied on its shooting this season. When the shots stopped falling in Thursday’s matchup with Minnesota, the Wildcats couldn’t recover.

NU went 11-for-38 performance in the second half — a half in which it almost felt more likely that one of the 7,215 in attendance would make a shot than the five players on the floor — eventually falling 70-66 as Minnesota (14-2, 2-1 Big Ten) silenced a once-raucous Welsh-Ryan Arena crowd.

“Both teams, in the second half, really clamped in, and it became a back-and-forth battle,” coach Chris Collins said. “We have to be more efficient offensively, and especially down the stretch of games, if we want to win those games.”

The result gave the Cats (12-4, 1-2) their first losing streak of the season, and marked their third loss by 4 points or fewer.

“We’ve got to quit feeling sorry for ourselves,” junior guard Bryant McIntosh said. “No one feels sorry for us, and I don’t feel sorry for us. We didn’t make enough plays down the stretch.”

McIntosh actually emerged from an extended slump of poor shooting with a solid performance against the Golden Gophers, making of 7-of-15 from the field and 5-of-5 at the free-throw line for a game-high 21 points. Sophomore center Dererk Pardon, returning from an extended injury absence, also added 9 points on 4-of-6 shooting.

The rest of the team didn’t follow suit, though. Forwards sophomore Vic Law and junior Scottie Lindsey each went 4-for-12 and senior forward Sanjay Lumpkin missed all three of his looks before fouling out. Junior forward Gavin Skelly missed six 3-pointers, including several at critical moments.

“(Minnesota) did a good job … of taking us out of what we were trying to do with our offense, with our screening, and then you get up against the (shot) clock sometimes,” Collins said. “In those situations, you’ve got to try to manufacture a good shot, and two or three times, maybe even four, we weren’t able to get a good look.”

Remarkably, the night began as an offensive showdown. NU made seven of its first eight shots and, after trading the lead back and forth for much of the first half, led 39-35 at the break.

Seven minutes into the second half, that advantage had been extended to 47-40, forcing the visitors to call timeout. Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said he reminded his team in the huddle of a similar 7-point deficit they faced in Sunday’s road upset over Purdue.

The pep talk seemed to work.

The Golden Gophers erupted on a 10-0 run that Collins later called the pivotal point of the game, and the Cats were never able to retake the lead.

“I’d like to say that I specifically did something (to the defensive schemes), but it just was more of a point of emphasis of understanding to get out to shooters,” Pitino said. “I thought our defense in the second half was absolutely terrific.”

The defensive pressure — and some cramping issues for McIntosh — thoroughly neutralized the fast-moving, pass-happy offense that had carried NU to success in non-conference play. The hosts made only 1-of-15 shots from 3-point range in the second half, including a vital miss by McIntosh while trailing 60-57 with 2:40 left.

“We didn’t execute as well, and I think our fatigue played into it a little bit,” McIntosh said. “We have to do a better job of cutting hard and setting everything up. There’s no miracle offense that you can run if you don’t run it sharp.”

Email: benjaminpope2019@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @benpope111

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