Rapid Recap: Radford 67, Northwestern 56


Daily file photo by Joshua Hoffman

Pat Spencer drives the lane. The graduate guard ran NU’s late game offense in the win against Providence.

Charlie Goldsmith, Holiday Guide Editor

Men’s Basketball

After Northwestern lost its season opener to Merrimack because the team couldn’t score down the stretch, coach Chris Collins called a team meeting. He said all the team needed to do to turn its season around was play with more confidence and urgency.

It looks like another team meeting is on deck.

The same offensive issues plagued NU against Merrimack hurt them again (1-2) in its 67-56 loss to Radford (2-2). The Cats couldn’t score, or run its fastbreak offense or hit many shots further than 12 feet from the basket.

NU has played two low-major opponents this year and lost to both of them, setting the tone for what looks to be a rebuilding season with a capital R.

The Cats haven’t been strangers to long scoring droughts this year –– the team had six points in the last seven minutes against Merrimack and allowed Providence back into Wednesday’s game by allowing a 20-5 run.

But none of those stretches were as fruitless as how the Cats looked in the first half Tuesday against the Highlanders, scoring five points in the last 16 minutes. The drought dragged on and on and on. And on.

NU led by eight points four minutes into the game, but the Highlanders responded with a 27-5 run to close the half. As the Cats shot contested threes early in the shot clock and turned the ball over like a habit, the Highlanders took a 31-17 lead into the break.

The Cats’ inefficient offense dug the team such a big hole in the first half that NU never got within 8 points after the Cats stopped the run. Sophomore forward Pete Nance led the Cats with 16 points, but he only shot 39 percent from the field and couldn’t turn the offense around.

The Cats scored 17 points in the last six minutes to cut down the deficit and give the game a more interesting ending, but it wasn’t enough to stop their second upset loss of the season.


1. NU has a nightmarish end to the first half

In the last 16 minutes before the break, NU missed 21 shots. The Cats had around the same amount of shooting attempts as Radford at halftime, but they were so poor from the field that they were down double digits at the break.

As NU watched Radford storm back into the game and eventually take a commanding lead late in the first half, the Cats kept losing track of the ball. NU had eight turnovers by halftime, and six different players coughed up the ball at some point in the first 20 minutes.

The Highlanders scored over a quarter of their first half points off transition, giving the underdog a way to get points on the board. NU’s offense was more composed down after halftime, but the Cats never got into the free-wheeling uptempo offense Collins hoped to see in the preseason.

2. Zone defense was less effective the second time around

The Cats surprised Providence with a 2-3 zone that packed the paint and forced misses on 27 threes and the majority of the Friars’ shots at the rim. NU went back to that zone against Radford, but this time it worked against them.

Highlanders guards Travis Fields Jr. and Carlik Jones made five of their first 10 threes, and they all came off wide open looks. Radford’s guards shot made NU pay for ignoring them at the three-point line, and the combined to finish with 35 points.

3. Ryan Young couldn’t repeat his stellar performance against Providence

The freshman center carried NU down the stretch last week, scoring 12 points in the second half and two clutch baskets that sealed the win over the Friars. He was patient in the post, receiving a pass from a driving guard and waiting for his defender to pass by.

But on Tuesday, Young barely shot the ball. Miller Kopp, Pat Spencer and Pete Nance played their typical featured roles in the offense, but Young and the rest of the supporting cast did very little. The main three guys all shot poorly from the field and didn’t involve the role players the way they did against Providence, which led to an inept looking offense.

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