Men’s Basketball: Cats triumph over Quincy to close out non-conference play


Daily file photo by Joshua Hoffman

Miller Kopp takes a shot. Kopp scored 14 points in just eight second-half minutes to key Northwestern’s blowout win over Quincy.

Patrick Andres, Assistant Sports Editor

Men’s Basketball

Northwestern’s non-conference slate ended the way it began — with a win — as the Wildcats once again flexed their offensive muscles and recovered from their first loss of the season.

Miller Kopp poured in 23 points, one shy of his career high set last season against Hartford, to lead the Wildcats (3-1) to a 100-48 rout of Division II Quincy (1-4) in NU’s final non-conference game. The junior forward connected on six of his 10 field goals, including three 3-pointers, and went a perfect 8-for-8 from the free-throw line.

“Miller has proven over last year and this year to be one of the best shooters in the Big Ten,” coach Chris Collins said. “When he gets some daylight and he gets his feet set, I’m usually surprised when he misses… when he gets going, he gets you the opportunity to get some distance from your opponent.”

The Cats shook off a stretch of eight consecutive missed field goals in the first half to lead 47-17 at halftime, getting baskets from eight different players. Kopp then exploded in the opening minutes of the second half, finishing it with 14 points in just eight minutes and opening the floodgates for a 52-point victory.

“We’re a really good shooting team — that’s kind of what we pride ourselves on being,” sophomore guard Boo Buie said. “We tell each other, ‘If you’re open, take a shot… if you miss a shot, so what?’ As long as we’re playing hard and getting the good shot, that’s all we care about.”

Buie wound up with 15 points on the afternoon, joining Kopp, redshirt sophomore guard Chase Audige, and junior forward Pete Nance in double figures. His four assists tied with sophomore forward Robbie Beran and redshirt sophomore center Ryan Young for a team high, and redshirt junior guard Anthony Gaines dominated the glass with 11 rebounds.

The game was the first one NU played since news broke that athletic director Jim Phillips — who hired Collins in the spring of 2013 — will become the next commissioner of the ACC in February. The coach offered congratulations to Phillips, drawing on his own experience in the ACC.

“He is just absolutely gonna kill it,” Collins said. “We know we lost a great one, but how could you not be excited and happy for him to be in that position? There is nobody better to lead that conference going forward.”

NU beat the Hawks on short notice after COVID-19 forced postponements of games against SIU-Edwardsville and Illinois-Springfield. Now, the squad will switch to conference play, kicking off its Big Ten schedule the evening of Dec. 20 at home against No. 4 Michigan State.

The Cats will be looking to improve from a 3-17 Big Ten record last season, which marked NU’s worst conference winning percentage since its 1-17 mark in 2008.

“I would say that the main thing (in conference play) is to have an identity of fighting,” Collins said. “We got 20 rounds coming up, and win or lose, the next time out, you gotta flush it and get ready for another battle.”

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