Rapid Recap: Northwestern 72, Providence 63


Joshua Hoffman/The Daily Northwestern

Anthony Gaines goes up for a layup.

Charlie Goldsmith, Reporter

Men’s Basketball

Ryan Young is a patient man.

When he gets the ball in the post, he takes his time, absorbing whatever contact defenders put him through while focusing precisely on what he’s trying to do –– put the ball in the basket.

Even with Providence sending its entire defense at him late in the game, Young scored two big layups in the last few minutes, calming NU’s offense after the Friars cut a 19-point deficit down to five.

Playing just his second game, the freshman center finished the game with a team-high 16 points and led the Cats to a 72-63 victory.

The Cats took such a big lead by scoring 10 points in the first three minutes of the second half, including two made threes from hot-and-cold shooters in Pat Spencer and Anthony Gaines. NU took a 19-point lead soon after the break, which was a big enough margin to hold when the Friars came back.

Providence got back into the game after the Cats went on a long dry spell from the field, but Young’s post play got them out of it.

NU stifled Providence with a combination of zone defenses –– including a full-court press and a one-three-one –– and forced Providence into missing its first nine shots from the field. Even though the Friars took 15 more shots in the first half then the Cats, they shot only 28.6 percent fromt he field. With NU hot from beyond the arc, the Cats took a 40-29 lead into halftime.

1. Anthony Gaines steps up. In the last seven minutes of NU’s loss last week to Merrimack, Gaines got to the basket and created the two of the best opportunities the team had on offense. But the sophomore guard was taken out for many of the decisive possessions of the game as the Cats went on a several minute scoreless stretch.

Coming out of the gate Wednesday, Gaines showed how he can play a more important offensive role than he played late in the loss against the Warriors. Collins drew up an early possession to get Gaines an open shot at the rim, and the junior guard scored four of the team’s first six points. He finished with 14, attacking the rim and breaking down Providence’s trapping defense better than anyone else on the team. Instead of relying on Nance and Kopp’s midrange shooting to generate chances, Gaines activity with the ball gave NU rhythm. He also made two free throws to extend the lead to seven points in the final minute.

2. Cats pick up the pace. Chris Collins spoke all offseason about playing at a faster tempo, but Merrimack’s laid-back zone defense prevented that from happening in the season opener. Collins and the Cats delivered on that promise against Providence. They scored 40 points in the first half by taking advantage of several transition opportunities.

NU’s transition attack benefited from much improved perimeter shooting. Freshman forward Robbie Beran made his first two three-point shots and contributed to the Cats shooting 63 percent from beyond the arc in the first half. After scoring only four points in the final seven minutes in NU’s last game, the offense completed a 180 degree turnaround.

3. NU takes a step in the right direction. For a while it looked like there was a lot to worry about. When NU started to slip after taking a 19-point advantage in the second half, the Cats made it look like history would repeat itself and they would blow a lead for the second straight game.

But NU made it through Providence’s run and won its first game of the year. In the process, the Cats proved they can be more competitive against high-caliber power five teams than many expected.

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