Men’s Basketball: Scoring drought dooms Northwestern as Wildcats fall to Radford

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Daily file photo by Joshua Hoffman

Pete Nance shoots a free throw. The sophomore forward scored 16 points and 10 rebounds on Tuesday.

John Riker, Reporter


Men’s Basketball


In last Friday’s win over Providence, Northwestern signaled that it could handle its out-of-conference competition.

The Wildcats’ 67-56 home loss to mid-major Radford indicated otherwise.

NU (1-2) struggled offensively, failing to score over a 12-minute stretch and making just one field goal in the last 16 minutes of the first half, and the Highlanders took advantage. Radford (2-2) rallied from an early 12-4 deficit to open up a commanding 31-17 halftime lead, and the Cats couldn’t recover from the drought.

“More than anything, I thought we were anxious,” coach Chris Collins said. “We settled for some bad shots early. Later in the first half, we had some open opportunities. If you don’t score for 12 minutes, it doesn’t matter who you play, you’re going to have a really hard time winning.”

The starkest difference between the two teams offensively came on the perimeter. The Highlanders hit on nine of their 20 attempts, while NU converted only three of 21 for a demoralizing 14.3 percent clip. Radford guards Carlik Jones and Travis Fields each connected on three 3-point attempts alone during the game.

The subpar shooting performance was reminiscent of the Cats’ season-opening loss to Merrimack, in which the team made only two of 16 attempts from behind the arc.

“We just got to make them,” Collins said. “I’ll have to look at the film, but I think we took some bad ones. We have to stay confident, take our shots, and when they have open shots I want them to shoot the ball.”

On the other side of the ball, NU’s zone defense — a major factor in their win over Providence — worked wonders to start the game. The Cats forced the Highlanders into turnovers and contested shots. But even as NU locked down on the defensive end, the inability to score proved fatal when Radford went on its run.

“I didn’t think the defense lost us the game,” Collins said. “We just got down big and we had to get out of it. They made big shots, they banked a couple. Those are shots you want them to take. If you eliminate the free throws at the end of the game, we had them in the 50s. If you have that team in the 50s, then you should give yourself a chance to win.”

The Cats’ offense broke out of its slump in the second half, but failed to pull themselves within striking distance. Radford extended their lead to as many as 21 in the second half, and though NU cut down the deficit to eight points with 1:19 remaining, the Highlanders kept pace by sinking nine straight free throws to win the game.

Sophomore forward Pete Nance notched a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds in the loss. Nance said that the Cats are keeping the disappointing performance in perspective.

“The college basketball season is really long,” Nance said. “Sometimes it’s hard to not look in the future, but realize that there’s a lot to learn and a lot of room to grow. With this team we definitely have a lot of time to improve and grow and learn, and everyday, that’s what we do.”

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