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Men’s Basketball: Wildcats end skid with dominant win over Minnesota

Anthony+Gaines+soars+up+for+a+dunk.+The+freshman+guard+scored+3+points+and+made+a+significant+impact+on+the+defensive+end+in+Wednesday%E2%80%99s+win+over+Minnesota.
Anthony Gaines soars up for a dunk. The freshman guard scored 3 points and made a significant impact on the defensive end in Wednesday’s win over Minnesota.

Anthony Gaines soars up for a dunk. The freshman guard scored 3 points and made a significant impact on the defensive end in Wednesday’s win over Minnesota.

Noah Frick-Alofs/Daily Senior Staffer

Noah Frick-Alofs/Daily Senior Staffer

Anthony Gaines soars up for a dunk. The freshman guard scored 3 points and made a significant impact on the defensive end in Wednesday’s win over Minnesota.

Ella Brockway, Reporter

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Men’s Basketball


ROSEMONT — On the first possession of Wednesday’s conference matchup against Minnesota, Northwestern forced the Golden Gophers to turn the ball over on a shot clock violation. On the next play, junior forward Vic Law sank a three to give the Wildcats an early 3-0 lead.

That series set the tone for what would follow.

NU (11-7, 2-3 Big Ten) cruised to an 83-60 win over the Golden Gophers (13-5, 2-3) at Allstate Arena for its second Big Ten win. After back-to-back ugly conference losses to start the new year, the Cats turned in one of their strongest offensive performances of the season, shooting 50 percent from the floor and out-rebounding Minnesota 45-26.

The victory, NU’s first of 2018, brought a much-needed good feeling back to the Cats, senior guard Scottie Lindsey said.

“We just really got back to having a lot of fun playing, playing with joy,” Lindsey said. “The way we played I think is definitely going to build everyone’s confidence.”

Lindsey finished with a team-high 22 points, and junior center Dererk Pardon had his third double-double of the season, scoring 13 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.

Senior guard Bryant McIntosh finished with 11 points and a school-record 16 assists in his first double-double performance of the season, moving into eighth place on the Big Ten career assist leaderboard.

The Cats opened the game in a zone defense to face the shorthanded Minnesota offense, which was without regular starters Amir Coffey and Reggie Lynch. The defensive strategy paid off from the start; the visitors struggled to make shots, shooting less than 25 percent from the field in the first half.

NU’s shutdown defense continued for the rest of the game. The Cats held Minnesota’s leading scorers, Nate Mason and Jordan Murphy, to just 17 points combined; Mason and Murphy averaged a combined 33.9 points heading into Wednesday’s game.

“We really like what we’re doing offensively, and we feel we’re doing the right things on that end,” coach Chris Collins said. “We just thought that maybe throwing a few curveballs here and there with some zones and some presses might give us some energy, and I thought for tonight it worked.”

The largest threat to NU’s lead came early in the second half, when the Cats were called for eleven fouls in the first ten minutes of the period. The Gophers cut the lead to 11 with 7:31 to play, but NU recovered and slowed the pace, forcing Minnesota to foul. Mason and Murphy both fouled out in the final minutes.

The win boosted the Cats’ spirit heading into the remainder of the conference season, Collins said.

“Tonight was a night we needed,” Collins said. “I think that was our main message after the Penn State (loss), that regardless of what happens, we’ve got to regain our heart, regain our spirit, and we’ve been working really hard since that game Friday night to do that.”

Email: ellabrockway2021@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @ellabrockway

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