Rapid Recap: Providence 77, Northwestern 72


Joanne Haner/Daily Senior Staffer

Junior guard Boo Buie drives to the basket in NU’s game against Fairleigh Dickinson. Against the Providence Friars, Buie dropped 23 points in a loss.

Alex Cervantes, Reporter

Northwestern entered Monday’s Legends Classic game in search of a statement win against Providence — their first true test of the season.

However, the Wildcats’ (4-1, 0-0 Big Ten) first undefeated start since 2015 ended at the hands of the Friars, (5-0) falling 77-72 in a game highlighted by extremes.

Providence jumped out to a 13-4 lead to start the game, a run that illustrated how NU’s early season slow starts can put them in at a severe deficit against better opponents. The Friars’ lead extended to 13 before Collins called a timeout nine minutes into the game.

Out of the timeout, the Cats went on their own short run to cut into the lead, before Providence once again extended it. NU hoped the shift from man-to-man defense to a 3-2 zone midway through the half would combat their perimeter defensive struggles, but they were only exposed more. The Friars shot 50% from 3-point range in the opening 20 minutes, leading 36-27 at the break behind the efforts of guards Jared Bynum and Brycen Goodine, who combined for 19 points.

NU’s start to the second half was no better than the first. Preseason All-Big East first team center Nate Watson had 10 points in the opening seven minutes to give Providence a 52-37 lead. But once again the Cats battled back behind an 11-3 run from midway through the second half.

Despite all the contested jumpers NU converted, they were unable to overcome the early deficit. It was a contest that saw the Cats dig a significant hole and claw themselves out, to only find themselves once again shoveling.

But NU had one more run in the final minute of regulation. A corner three from senior forward Pete Nance and then a pair of floaters saw the double-digit Providence lead evaporate. It was too little too late, as the Cats were unable to overcome the Friar lead.

NU will face Georgia in the third-place game on Tuesday at 4 p.m. CT


1. Northwestern 3-point defense struggles
Coming into the game against the Friars, NU held opponents to 26.7% shooting from beyond the arc. It was a total reversal today, as Providence’s quick perimeter ball movement allowed the team several open looks, going 8-for-16 from 3-point range in the first half. The Friars continued that momentum in the second period, shooting 5-for-9 and stifling any hopes of a Cats comeback.

2. Nance and Boo Buie shine
Nance and junior guard Boo Buie once again were the catalysts for NU’s offense. The pair combined for 43 points on 16-for-32 shooting. Nance’s ability to stretch the floor forced Providence’s frontcourt into some tricky spots, while Buie’s threat as a shooter allowed for easy driving lanes. The duo will likely have to carry the Cats in big games and Monday was a good indication they can do so.

3. Can Northwestern control a game for 40 minutes?
This game was marked by far too many inconsistent spurts by the Cats. The early nine-point deficit was a hole that the team was unable to climb out of. NU showed great determination in fighting back, highlighted by their own double-digit scoring runs, but it’s the lack of consistent play that is concerning come Big Ten play.

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