Rapid Recap: Northwestern 69, Rutgers 65

Bryant+McIntosh+fires+a+jumper.+The+junior+guard+scored+18+points+in+the+Wildcats%27+win+over+Rutgers.+

Rachel Dubner/Daily Senior Staffer

Bryant McIntosh fires a jumper. The junior guard scored 18 points in the Wildcats’ win over Rutgers.

Garrett Jochnau, Sports Editor


Men’s Basketball


Coach Chris Collins’ hair might have gone gray in the process, but Northwestern survived a scare from Rutgers to secure a 69-65 win at home Saturday.

After trailing for much of the second half, junior guard Bryant McIntosh nailed a clutch 3 to lift the Wildcats (20-7, 9-5 Big Ten) ahead, giving them a lead they would never surrender.

NU got off to a slow start, failing to take early control in a must-win game. Rutgers (13-15, 2-13) scored efficiently in the opening quarter of game time and played the hosts even early on.

Even so, sophomore center Dererk Pardon established himself early against the Scarlet Knights, posting 8 points and grabbing seven boards in the opening eight minutes.

But the big man’s hot start was matched by few teammates. McIntosh scored early on a pair of floaters, but junior guard Scottie Lindsey looked rusty in his return and sophomore forward Vic Law failed to find a scoring rhythm out of the gate.

Meanwhile, Rutgers impressed early led by guard Corey Sanders, who finished with 17.

But neither team pulled away in the opening half. The Cats eventually found a burst of offensive energy in a highlight reel sequence featuring an alley-oop and 3 from Law, and a floater and 3 from Lindsey. Yet, they couldn’t capture momentum and entered halftime leading by just 3, with both teams shooting 50 percent or better.

Rutgers emerged from halftime with the upper hand. After trading baskets with NU, the Scarlet Knights found an offensive burst and held the Cats without a field goal for seven minutes — a span in which NU also turned the ball over five times.

But the Cats eventually recovered. After battling with Rutgers down the stretch and conceding a number of offensive boards, NU came away with a crucial second-chance opportunity of its own, and McIntosh converted from deep to put the hosts ahead 2 with under a minute remaining. Free throws stretched the lead to 4 as the Cats survived a scare at Welsh-Ryan.

Takeaways

1. Dererk Pardon impresses early

NU failed to assert itself early, but Pardon didn’t. The sophomore’s early play anchored a Cats offense that saw mediocre early production outside of the big man and McIntosh.

He opened the game with three dunks, establishing himself as a go-to option in the paint. Adding seven rebounds — including three on the offensive end — Pardon proved crucial for NU, which managed just eight rebounds outside of its center before the break.

The big man eventually cooled, finishing with just 12 points and eight boards, but proved in the opening half what he could do as a focal point of the Cats’ offense.

2. Scoring droughts continue to hurt Northwestern

Against one of the worst teams in the Big Ten, NU should have taken control early.

Even so, the Cats nearly lost the game in the second half, when they failed to find consistent offense in the half court for an extended spell. Before McIntosh connected on a jumper, NU had failed to hit a field goal for seven minutes. The hosts committed a series of turnovers, taking bad shots and setting the stage for Rutgers’ crucial run.

The Cats survived, but showed themselves susceptible to the type of drought that has plagued them all season long.

3. Northwestern pulls through in the clutch

It was ugly, and things didn’t look good for an NU team that couldn’t afford a loss. But when it mattered, the Cats stepped up.

After surrendering its lead early in the second half, NU didn’t push back ahead until McIntosh connected from deep with 58 seconds remaining. And when the final buzzer sounded, the hosts were on top, thanks in no small part to junior forward Gavin Skelly, who added two necessary 3s to keep the Cats alive, as well as an impressive finish from the free throw line from an NU team that spent crunch time in the bonus.

Stats
– Bryant McIntosh: 18 points
– Scottie Lindsey: 6 points, 24 minutes
– Rutgers: 18 offensive rebounds

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @GarrettJochnau

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