Men’s Basketball: Creighton edges Northwestern despite Law’s career day


Brian Meng/The Daily Northwestern

Vic Law sprints away from a defender. The junior forward scored a career-high 30 points in the Wildcats’ loss to Creighton on Wednesday.

Ben Pope, Reporter

Men’s Basketball

ROSEMONT — Vic Law dropped a career-high 30 points, Bryant McIntosh discovered his midseason form and Northwestern staged an epic mid-game comeback from 15 points down. For the first time this season, there was exciting basketball being played in the cavernous confines of Allstate Arena.

But also for the first time this year, the Wildcats lost.

“This is a game that we talk about as like a ‘program game’ — it’s an opportunity to show everybody what we’re about — and we actually did the opposite,” McIntosh said after his team’s 92-88 defeat. “We’re a blue-collar, defense-first program. Tonight, it was great (that) we put up 88 points, but we also gave up 92.”

Against a run-and-gun Creighton (3-0) team that plays at one of the fastest paces in the country, NU (2-1) found itself caught in a tempo that played right into its opponent’s hands. The Bluejays put up 68 field goal attempts, the third-most the Cats have allowed in coach Chris Collins’ five-year tenure, and scored 92 points — the most NU has allowed since January 2014.

Collins said that breakneck pace of play combined with poor defensive communication doomed his team.

“When you’re really running back, if you’re not talking, you can get cross-matched, you can get lost, and that’s what was happening,” he said. “I didn’t think we were talking at a high level and finding guys in transition, which led to a number of easy baskets, and that’s what (Creighton) does great.”

The Bluejays overcame a rare quiet game from star guard Marcus Foster and an early injury to forward Toby Hegner by getting 24 points from junior guard Khyri Thomas and claiming a whopping 33-4 advantage in bench points.

That was enough to top masterful performances by both McIntosh, a senior guard, and Law, a junior forward. McIntosh finished with 24 points on 11-of-20 shooting, while Law erupted for 23 points in the second half alone.

“For those (two) guys to give us 54 points and 10 assists and nine rebounds, I was proud of them,” Collins said. “They made big shots, they made big plays, they weren’t running from the game, and that’s what you expect.”

After the highly anticipated matchup nearly devolved into a blowout in the first half, NU fought back to trail just 51-43 at halftime. The Cats then rode three 3-pointers by Law in the opening minutes of the second half to take a short-lived lead.

Creighton continually answered back, however, with a consistent onslaught of both deep bombs and inside layups to re-establish its multi-possession advantage. The visitors finished an absurdly efficient 8-of-16 from deep, countering NU’s almost-as-impressive 12-of-28 clip, and dominated points in the paint by a 48-26 margin.

The Cats nevertheless remained in the game — an entertaining one for all 6,384 fans in attendance, even McIntosh admitted — until the final whistle.

A triple by senior forward Gavin Skelly, who finished with 14 points and a team-high six rebounds, cut the deficit to just 2 points with 18 seconds to play. But the Bluejays made all of their late free throws and played great defense on NU’s final possession to preserve the win.

Afterwards, an exhausted Law — forced to play 39 minutes as sophomore forward Aaron Falzon missed his third consecutive game and senior guard Scottie Lindsey dealt with foul trouble from the outset — took the blame for his team’s defensive letdown.

“Yeah, I’m happy I scored (30),” he said. “But as a defensive-minded player … I need to do a better job.”

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