Men’s Basketball: Anthony Gaines breaks out in season-best offensive performance


Joshua Hoffman/Daily Senior Staffer

Anthony Gaines drives to the basket. The junior guard scored a season-high 11 points against Rutgers on Saturday.

Gabriela Carroll, Web Editor

Men’s Basketball

Anthony Gaines entered the starting lineup two games ago, on Feb. 4 against Purdue.

Coach Chris Collins said he knew Gaines would boost the team defensively and improve their rebounding. But on Saturday against Rutgers, the junior guard broke out for his best offensive performance of the season. Gaines scored a season-high 11 points, all in the first half, keeping Northwestern competitive as the team’s more prolific shooters struggled.

Gaines only averages 4.3 points per game, and the Scarlet Knights’ defense tried to take advantage, leaving him open early on and daring him to take three point shots and big jumpers. But Gaines, who had attempted just 14 three pointers before Saturday, took those shots — and he knocked them down.

“When we got off to a great start, (Rutgers was) testing him a little bit,” Collins said. “We were playing through the posts, which we wanted to do and they were leaving him open on the rotations. He made a couple big threes and he had a couple big post ups. He even had a three-point play on one of those post ups.”

During his high-volume stretch in the first half, Gaines scored eight-straight points, ending a three minute NU point drought. He took a season-high five shots from behind the arc, and made two, another season high. His success held the surging Scarlet Knights back as they aimed to take control of the game.

The Cats are not a strong rebounding team, with a -2.6 average rebounding margin this season. hey were outrebounded 43-to-31 by Rutgers. Gaines made his presence known on the glass, grabbing six rebounds including one on the offensive end.

“He’s always gonna play hard defensively and give you the intangibles on the glass and hustle on plays,” Collins said. “But him being able to be a double-figure scorer tonight for us and get six rebounds was a big reason we got off to a great start.”

In the 11-game skid, NU hasn’t had much to celebrate, but Gaines’ big contributions on Saturday gave the Cats another offensive option when some of its other scorers were floundering.

The new starting lineup, with Gaines and sophomore center Ryan Young, gives NU more size both down low and on the perimeter. Collins said he hopes Saturday’s game gives Gaines the confidence to take more shots and continue scoring.

“We’ve rewarded (Gaines),” Collins said postgame on Saturday. “We’ve put him in the lineup here and he’s responded and played well. Hopefully a game like tonight will give him even more confidence heading into the next one.”

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Twitter: @gablcarroll

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