Rapid Recap: Northwestern 64, No. 10 Michigan State 62


Jorge Melendez/The Daily Northwestern

Chase Audige takes a pull-up jumper. The redshirt junior had 14 points and seven rebounds in the big 64-62 win over No. 10 Michigan State.

Lawrence Price, Assistant Sports Editor

Heading into its Saturday contest against No.10 Michigan State, Northwestern was shorthanded. The team suited up without both its leading scorer and rebounder in senior forward Pete Nance, as well as graduate forward Elyjah Williams. This is to say nothing of the Cats’ recent unluckiness and inability to find the win column – losing their last four games by a total of 25 points.

Even with the odds against them, NU’s early offensive success amounted to a halftime lead, allowing the group to hold on and knock off MSU for the second time in two seasons, 64-62.

After four and a half minutes filled with missed shots, turnovers and eight points combined between both teams to start the game, redshirt guard Chase Audige broke the ice with a three-point field goal to give the Cats a 7-4 lead. Junior forward Robbie Beran joined the party on the following possession with a fast break three of his own.

NU carried its momentum out to a 12-4 lead, including three forced turnovers. The Cats got production from sophomore center Matt Nicholson, who picked up minutes usually played by Nance and Williams and tallied five points and four rebounds by the end of the half.

The team’s hot shooting simmered down, though, after it elevated its lead to eight points, allowing Michigan State to find its groove. For nearly the next six minutes, MSU went on a 15-4 run of its own, highlighted by forward Gabe Brown’s three with one second left in the shot clock.

Warming back up, NU quickly stifled the Spartans’ success with back-to-back-to-back threes from Beran, Audige and Buie, charging towards a 38-33 lead going into the break.

Coming out of the half, MSU was first to punch by finishing at the rim off Brown’s left-handed layup in transition off a Beran turnover. NU punched back three possessions later, though, off junior guard Boo Buie’s layup, ensuing a dog fight for the rest of the second half. 

In a back-and-forth battle for leverage, neither group showed signs of breaking away until Young’s and-one layup with less than three minutes left in the contest. MSU had a chance to tie with less than a second left following Beran’s foul on Marcus Bingham Jr., sending him to free throw. However, the Spartan was unable to hit the first, allowing NU to sky in for the rebound, and secure the victory, 64-62, knocking off a top ten-ranked MSU team for the second time in two years.


  • Shooting from beyond the arc important in offense’s success

After a poor performance from deep against Maryland, the Cats were able to find their groove once again from three, a large part of the group’s offensive success in the first half. In that first 20-minute period, NU shot 53.8% from beyond the arc, accounting for 21 of the team’s 38 points. However, that wasn’t the case in the second half, though shooting 1-13, a major factor to the offense’s inability to get it going as the game progressed. Although snagging the big win, the Cats electric three-point shooting is an important factor in the team’s offensive success.

  • Bench players step up big in Nance and Williams’s absences

NU was undermanned at the forward position in today’s contest without both Nance and Williams, two impactful players on both ends of the court for the team. However, centers like redshirt junior Ryan Young and Nicholson stepped up huge, playing large minutes compared to their season averages, and producing as well. Behind Young’s 18 points and team leading rebounds of eight, and Nicholson’s five points and six rebounds, the two were able to fill the void that was essential in keeping the Cats in the contest.

  • Ryan Young needs a bigger role

During the 2020-21 campaign, Young held an essential spot in NU’s rotation, averaging the fifth-most points on the team and acting as the main backup to Pete Nance. However, this season, the center has seen his minutes decrease and rebounds per game not make much of a jump. Even through this, Young stepped up big to fill in for Nance, leading the team in points and rebounds, including a crucial and-one basket late in the contest. The big man’s performance makes it clear his role and minutes need to expand as the team moves deeper into its schedule.

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