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Rapid Recap: Wisconsin 69, Northwestern 64

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Rapid Recap: Wisconsin 69, Northwestern 64

Dererk Pardon slams it home. He faced off against All Big Ten player Ethan Happ throughout the game.

Dererk Pardon slams it home. He faced off against All Big Ten player Ethan Happ throughout the game.

Alison Albelda/Daily Senior Staffer

Dererk Pardon slams it home. He faced off against All Big Ten player Ethan Happ throughout the game.

Alison Albelda/Daily Senior Staffer

Alison Albelda/Daily Senior Staffer

Dererk Pardon slams it home. He faced off against All Big Ten player Ethan Happ throughout the game.

Andrew Golden, Assistant Sports Editor

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Men’s Basketball


Inside Welsh-Ryan Arena on Saturday, Northwestern (12-15, 3-12) played behind one of the loudest crowds it has seen since the opening of the Arena. The Wildcats battled Wisconsin (19-8, 11-5) for most of the game, but couldn’t hit the game-winning shot to tie the game, falling 69-64.

NU and the Badgers (19-8, 11-5) played a back-and-forth first half. There were seven lead changes in the first 20 minutes of action, as both teams traded buckets. Senior center Dererk Pardon led NU with 11 first-half points and Wisconsin guard D’Mitrik Trice countered with 11 of his own. Seniors Ethan Happ and Vic Law, arguably the best players on their respective teams, both struggled in the first half as Happ scored 5 points and Law scored 7.

In the second half, Wisconsin started to create some separation, building up a seven point lead with just under eight minutes remaining. But the Cats didn’t let the Badgers get away too quickly. After an Ethan Happ bucket gave Wisconsin a 53-46 lead, the Wildcats went on a 8-2 run to cut the lead to one. This run was due to the stellar play of Law, who scored all of the team’s points during that stretch.

With less than two minutes remaining, Badgers guard Brad Davidson hit a jumper to give Wisconsin a three-point lead. Neither team scored until Vic Law hit two free throws with 15 seconds remaining. Davidson was fouled and went to the line with a chance to give the Badgers a three-point lead and made both free throws.

Down by three with four seconds remaining, NU had one more chance to tie the game and send it into overtime. Junior Aaron Falzon got the ball off of a screen and had a somewhat clean look, but missed and a Wisconsin rebound and two free throws sealed the game.

Takeaways

1. Northwestern’s defense harassed Ethan Happ in the first half. In the first matchup between these two teams, Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ proved why he was one of the best players in the Big Ten. Happ finished with a triple-double almost a month ago and the Cats were determined not to let that happen again. On Saturday, Happ was not nearly as effective as he was in the first game. Wisconsin’s senior forward looked flustered in the post for most of the first half. The Cats’ swarming defense didn’t allow Happ to establish the ball in the low post.

NU constantly double-teamed Happ, forcing him to pass the ball away immediately once he got the ball. Happ would pass the ball back to his teammates on the perimeter, but the Cats’ defensive rotations forced contested outside shots. In the second half, Happ was more effective and NU struggled to get to Happ in time to force a double team. He finished the game with 14 points on 6-11 shooting after starting the game 2-6 from the field. NU has been a great defensive team all season, but the Cats’ game plan for Happ was executed to perfection during the first half.

2. Dererk Pardon looked like the better big man. On the other side of the ball, Dererk Pardon used his matchup to his advantage. Instead of being guarded by Happ, Pardon was primarily guarded by Reuvers. When NU fed the senior center in the post, he showed just how effective he could be, finishing in the paint time after time. Pardon ended the game with 21 points on 9-12 shooting, one of his best performances of late.

NU had struggled to get Pardon the ball in the past couple of games and it showed in his stats. In the previous three games, Pardon averaged nine points per game and shot 46 percent from the field, significantly below his season average of 57 percent. But after an eight-point performance against Wisconsin in the first contest, it seemed that the Cats wanted to get him more involved in the offense. In this matchup, the Cats made a more concerted effort to get Pardon the ball through pick-and-roll sets. Pick-and-rolls are familiar for Pardon, who was frequently used on pick-and-rolls with Bryant McIntosh in past years.

3. The Wildcats’ offense plays up to the level of their defense. The main storyline of NU’s season has been the lack of production on the offense end. The Wildcats have scored less than 60 points in six of its last seven games. However, things took a turn for the better on Saturday. In a matchup against one of the best teams it has faced all season, NU’s offense looked better than it had in the last eight games, aside from their game against Iowa.

The Wildcats finished the game with a shooting percentage of 41 percent. Aside from the matchup against the Hawkeyes, NU’s field goal percentage hasn’t been that high since their loss in Ann Arbor a month ago. Despite the fact that there are only four games remaining on the season, this game could be a confidence booster for the Cats heading into the Big Ten Tournament.

Email: andrewgolden2021@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @andrewcgolden

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