Rapid Recap: Pittsburgh 87, Northwestern 58


Cassandra Ratkevich/The Daily Northwestern

Graduate student forward Tydus Verhoeven jumps for the ball. Verhoeven had just three rebounds and two assists, while going scoreless in Northwestern’s 87-58 loss to Pittsburgh Monday.

Alex Cervantes, Senior Staffer

The third time is apparently not the charm. 

In the final installment of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, Northwestern hosted Pittsburgh for the programs’ third meeting in four seasons. After dropping the previous pair of matchups in 2019 and 2020, the Wildcats (5-2, 0-0 Big Ten) were unable to mount a comeback against the Panthers (5-3, 0-0 ACC), falling 87-58. 

After falling short in an upset bid against No. 13 Auburn in Cancun, NU struggled to muster much of anything Monday night. For the first time all season, the Cats conceded over 65 points to an opponent as the Panthers enjoyed great success from beyond the arc and at the charity stripe.

In another battle between two former Duke teammates turned head coaches, Chris Collins remains winless against Jeff Capel III. 

Here are three takeaways from NU’s clash with Pittsburgh.


  1. NU offensive struggles persist

Aside from the three prolific halves of offense against Chicago State and Georgetown, respectively, the Cats’ offense has struggled thus far. 

So far in November, NU’s starting backcourt triumvirate of senior guard Boo Buie, redshirt senior guard Chase Audige and junior guard Ty Berry have been an inefficient bunch. Despite being the Cats’ three leading scorers, none are shooting above 37% from the field and 36% from three-point range.

Nevertheless, NU’s defense has anchored its early performances, but it was unable to match Pittsburgh’s hot shooting Monday.

Buie, Audige and Berry combined to shoot 11-of-33 from the field and 6-of-23 from deep, totaling 31 points. Outside of the trio, only senior forward Robbie Beran and freshman forward Nick Martinelli provided much of an offensive lift with eight and seven points, respectively. NU’s bench added 19 points on 7-of-21 shooting.

  1. Pittsburgh lights it up from beyond the arc

Entering Monday’s contest, the Panthers were shooting 29.8% from distance on nearly 27 attempts per game. 

The early season struggles from beyond the arc didn’t seem to hinder Pittsburgh in Welsh-Ryan Arena, though.

As NU looked to cut off the Panther dribble drives and interior scoring, the visitors buried six first half triples in response. Pittsburgh enjoyed similar success in the second half, burying eight threes at a 66.7% clip. Four Panthers — Nelly Cummings, Blake Hinson, Greg Elliott and Nike Sibande — canned at least three triples in the game, as Capel’s side nailed a blistering 63.6% of its attempts from distance.

  1. The Cats’ defense struggles for first time this season

Fresh off holding a top-15 team to 43 points, NU’s defense struggled to contain the Panthers. 

Pittsburgh’s well-documented shooting struggles aside, the Cats trapped the ball when it got to the short corner, leaving the crosscourt skip pass wide open throughout the matchup. The Panthers punished NU accordingly, canning more than 11 triples for just the first time this season.

The Cats’ top-10 defensive efficiency rating in KenPom will freefall as a result of this performance. With its noted offensive hindrances, NU will need its defense to keep the squad in games — which it had until Monday. Collins will have the rest of the week to regroup before the Cats travel to No. 20 Michigan State Sunday. 

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Twitter: @CervantesPAlex 

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