Men’s Basketball: Poor shooting, turnovers plague Cats as they lose ninth straight to Minnesota


Alison Albelda/Daily Senior Staffer

Dererk Pardon plays tough defense. The senior forward scored 16 points and 13 rebounds.

Gabby Birenbaum, Social Media Editor

Men’s Basketball

A lot happened this February — Virginia underwent political turmoil, Chicago held an election and the Patriots won the Super Bowl. One thing that never happened? A win for Northwestern.

The Wildcats relinquished a 3-2 lead in the first minute of the game and remained on the wrong end of the scoreboard for the rest of the night, losing 62-50 to Minnesota. The loss was NU’s (12-16, 3-14 Big Ten) ninth straight, and like in past losses, turnovers and poor shooting were the Cats’ culprits.

“Our inability to score has been our kryptonite,” coach Chris Collins said. “Every time we try to get some momentum, every time we try to get some things together, we just can’t string together two, three, four buckets in a row.”

Defensively, NU was able to limit the Golden Gophers’ (18-11, 8-10) big men, holding Jordan Murphy and Daniel Oturo to six points each. In their absence, Minnesota guard Amir Coffey lit up the Cats for a career-high 32 points on 12-for-19 shooting. The junior played the entire game, earning his first double-double of his career.

Senior center Dererk Pardon continued to be a bright spot, posting another double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds. But NU struggled to get others involved on offense — only five of 10 players who saw minutes scored.

Turnovers plagued the Cats from the outset. The team committed 14 turnovers, with nine coming in the first half. Poor three-point shooting also got the team in an early hole — the team finished 29.2 percent from beyond the arc.

Up 18-14 with 7:38 left in the first half, Minnesota went on a 12-2 run to pull away near the end of the half. NU disappeared on offense at times, with scoreless stretches of over five minutes and just under four minutes.

“We gotta be able to play clean offense for 40 minutes,” Pardon said. “Not 20 minutes, not 30 minutes.”

A new lineup briefly re-energized NU at the beginning of the second half, as Pardon and Law scored two quick baskets in the post in the first minute of the half and forcing a shot-clock violation on defense. But, the success was short-lived, as fouls and turnovers led the Golden Gophers on a 9-0 run in under two minutes.

Though sophomore guard Anthony Gaines forced two turnovers early in the second half, the Cats were unable to capitalize on either.

Minnesota’s lead climbed to 20 midway through the second half, as NU’s poor shooting continued. The Cats finished 34 percent from the field, while Minnesota, led by Coffey, shot 41.2 percent.

The game was worse than the final score showed, as the Cats scored eight points in the last 2:15 to the Golden Gophers’ four.

Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said NU’s lack of true point guard is a source of its offensive woes and Big Ten basement status. He also pointed to the team’s poor shooting as another aspect of the team’s struggles.

“When you’re playing Vic Law at the point, you’re playing (Anthony) Gaines at the point, those are guys that are not playing the right positions,” Pitino said. “That’s really, really hard. I know they’re scratching and clawing to find a way to get an offensive flow, but that’s pretty much it right there.”

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