Men’s Basketball: Northwestern overpowers Rutgers in Big Ten Tournament opener


Daily file photo by Jacob Morgan

Scottie Lindsey dribbles to his left. The junior guard shook a late-season slump and scored 16 points against Rutgers.

Max Schuman, Digital Projects Editor

Men’s Basketball

Down the stretch of the season, Northwestern has just been looking for some shots to fall. And for one glorious stretch in the first half against Rutgers on Thursday, they did.

“It’s an awesome feeling,” sophomore forward Vic Law said. “We felt like we were clicking on all cylinders.”

NU (22-10, 10-8 Big Ten) connected on five 3s in over 10 minutes as part of a 31-0 run to put the Scarlet Knights (15-18, 3-15) in a huge hole, punctuated with a runout dunk from senior forward Sanjay Lumpkin that pushed the lead to 37-9.

Rutgers hung tough from there, cutting the Cats’ lead to 15 at one point in the second half. But the damage had already been done, and NU closed out a 83-61 win to advance to the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament.

Powered by the massive run, the Cats finished the game with their highest point total since they scored 89 against Iowa on Jan. 15.

“We’ve been in some tough games the last few games.” Law said. “To be as efficient and effective as we were offensively … it was just a fun night to play.”

The offensive outburst corresponded with strong showings from Law and junior guard Scottie Lindsey, who have struggled in recent weeks. Lindsey put up 16 points, his most in six games since returning to the lineup from illness, while Law also chipped in an efficient 16 on just six shots.

With NU’s two athletic wings in a rhythm, the Cats found a balance on offense that was too much for the Scarlet Knights to handle. Lumpkin, who notched 9 points, was the only NU starter who didn’t reach double digits on the night.

“We got contributions from a lot of guys, which is when we’re at our best,” coach Chris Collins said. “You look down the line and we had a lot of scoring, a lot of assists, and when we do that we’re a pretty good team.”

Though the Cats didn’t again reach the heights of that 31-0 run, they ran crisp offense in the second half to finish shooting a sizzling 60 percent from the field. NU even controlled the glass, its biggest weakness in its most recent matchup with Rutgers this season, ultimately winning the rebounding battle 33-19.

All in all, it was an auspicious beginning to the Cats’ postseason run, one which looks likely to end in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history. For now, NU turns its attention to Friday’s quarterfinal showdown with Maryland, which topped the Cats in Evanston in the teams’ only meeting this year. Junior guard Bryant McIntosh said NU is ready.

“We played tired the last time we played them,” McIntosh said. “It’s just a wonderful opportunity, and I think all of us are excited for it.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @maxschuman28