Rapid Recap: No. 23 Maryland 74, Northwestern 64
February 15, 2017
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After winning 11 of their first 12 games at home this year, Northwestern has suddenly fallen on hard times at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
The Wildcats fell victim to a surprise home loss to Illinois last week and returned to Evanston on Wednesday night looking to build on a huge weekend victory at then-No. 7 Wisconsin. Instead, NU (19-7, 8-5 Big Ten) lost their second-straight at Welsh-Ryan, falling 74-64 to No. 23 Maryland (22-4, 10-3).
The Cats could not find a way to stop the Terrapins’ Melo Trimble, one of the nation’s top guards, who rolled up 32 points. Nor could they find a consistent source of offense. Sophomore center Dererk Pardon, who finished with 11 points, finished as the only player on NU who made more than half his shots.
The Cats sleepwalked out of the gate, perhaps suffering a hangover effect after the huge road victory over the Badgers. NU missed 14 of its first 17 shots, and Maryland rolled to an 18-9 lead as the hosts tossed up brick after brick. The Cats never truly found an offensive groove in the first half, finishing with just nine made field goals as they trailed 32-22 at halftime.
NU managed to find a bit more offense in the second half, doubling its first-half scoring output in under 14 minutes. But Maryland extended its lead with efficient offense, and the blazing-hot Trimble went to work, pouring in 19 second-half points. A pair of Trimble free throws extended Maryland’s lead to 20 points with 7:28 to go and, while a pair of late runs from the Cats pulled them within 9 points with 3:16 to go and 8 with 1:15, the Terrapins never truly relinquished control.
1. The Wildcats are still in good shape when it comes to The Dance
Previously desperate for a signature win, the Cats finally found one on Sunday when they topped the Badgers. Though the home loss to Maryland will go down as a missed opportunity, NU still appears squarely on the right side of the bubble. On the cusp of 20 wins and with a manageable four-game stretch up next, the Cats have a chance to cement their tournament case by ending the regular season hot. Of course, one aspect that has nagged the squad of late might get in the way …
2. Without Scottie Lindsey, Northwestern continues to struggle to score
NU is now 1-3 without junior guard Scottie Lindsey, who has been sidelined with illness. In those four games, the Cats have not eclipsed 66 points (their season average entering Wednesday stood at 73.5 points per game), and Lindsey’s absence has clearly had a toll on the team’s ability to manufacture offense.
Junior guard Bryant McIntosh shouldered the bulk of the scoring load in the Cats’ upset victory at Wisconsin over the weekend, but he scored just 9 points against Maryland as foul trouble kept him on the bench for long stretches of the first half. Meanwhile, sophomore forward Vic Law has fallen into a slump of late and went 4-for-12 from the field against the Terrapins. Air-tight defense and McIntosh’s magic produced the win in Madison, but the Cats need Lindsey back to be a factor in March.
3. Basketball fever clutches campus
Despite an early evening, mid-week start time, students packed the gameday shuttles and filled the student section for Wednesday night’s tilt. A relatively small contingent of Terrapins fans made the trip west, and NU’s crowd again brought a big-time feel to Welsh-Ryan Arena. Hype has reached a fever pitch around the Cats, and the pre-game atmosphere Wednesday mirrored and perhaps eclipsed recent home games against Indiana and Iowa.