Rapid Recap: Northwestern 81, Minnesota 61


Esther Lim/The Daily Northwestern

Redshirt senior guard Chase Audige drives down the lane against a Minnesota defender. Audige finished with 24 points in Northwestern’s 81-61 win Saturday.

Alex Cervantes, Senior Staffer

Fresh off a convincing win on the road at Nebraska, Northwestern returned home to a packed Welsh-Ryan Arena student section to welcome Minnesota. 

Though initially troubled by the Golden Gophers’ zone defense, the Wildcats (15-5, 6-3 Big Ten) cruised to a 81-61 victory, propelled by the efforts of its three captains: redshirt senior guard Chase Audige, senior forward Robbie Beran and senior guard Boo Buie.

Just a few days removed from a 43-point first half showing against the Cornhuskers, NU poured in 45 against Minnesota (7-13, 1-9). The Cats shot a blistering 55.2% from the field and 60% from three-point range on just 10 attempts. Coach Chris Collins’ bunch also connected on 7-of-8 first half free throws. By the time the buzzer sounded, NU headed into the intermission holding a 17-point advantage.

The second half saw an offensive regression from the Cats, but the Golden Gophers’ early deficit proved insurmountable.

Here are three takeaways from the Cats’ clash with the Golden Gophers.


  1. NU captains enjoy all the spoils of victory against Minnesota

For the most part, the Cats’ success relies on the efforts of Audige, Buie and Beran on both ends of the floor. When the trio combines to produce an effort similar to Saturday’s, the outcome is quite favorable.

Did the result come against the team relegated to the Big Ten’s basement? Sure. But it’s hard to argue against a combined 59-point effort from the captains. 

Audige was NU’s catalyst offensively in the opening frame. Leaning on his trustworthy fall-away jumper and some efficient three-point shooting, Audige poured in 15 points in the first half en route to a team-high 24 points in another prolific outing. 

His backcourt team in Buie tallied nine points in the first 20 minutes, though on a modest 4-of-8 from the field. Still, his ability to carve up the Minnesota defense on dribble drives opened up opportunities for teammates, resulting in six first-half assists — he finished with 21 points and eight assists. 

Meanwhile, Beran had ample success in the corner and at the elbows against the Golden Gophers. After an attempt from the right elbow failed to connect, the Virginia native hit a triple from the right corner and then a deep left wing three in the first frame. His good shooting followed suit in the second half, canning a right corner trey and a pair of mid-range jumpers. Beran finished the day with 14 points and three boards on an efficient 5-of-7 from the field.

  1. Bench provides excellent minutes, especially defensively

When sophomore guard Julian Roper II sustained an ankle injury against Wisconsin, an already shortened rotation took a big hit. Over the past two games, Collins has subsequently thrown freshman forward Nick Martinelli straight into the fray. He’s responded in epic fashion considering his last true playing time before this month came in November.

In nine first-half minutes, Martinelli was a force on the glass, snagging four boards and giving the Cats a couple extra possessions, while also hitting a pair of free throws. Though there were some defensive lapses — as will naturally come for a first-year — his effort on both ends provided NU with a much-needed lift.

Sixth man sophomore guard Brooks Barnhizer, per usual, put in an inspired display for the Cats on Saturday. His Swiss army knife qualities, notably his switchability defensively along with his energy on and off the ball, were in full view. Barnhizer finished the game with seven points, five rebounds and one steal in 31 minutes.

Arguably the most important boost of the bench came from graduate student forward Tydus Verhoeven. In his brief time in Evanston, the UTEP transfer has quite the penchant for accumulating fouls in rapid succession. In NU’s win against Wisconsin, Verhoeven picked up five fouls in five minutes.

With his impact limited recently, Verhoeven made sure to leave an impression against Minnesota. His positioning defensively and effort on the glass was rewarded with 10 first-half minutes, as he hauled in three boards along with three blocks and a steal. In the end, Verhoeven fouled out with 1:08 to play, finishing with four points, four rebounds and three blocks.

  1. Minnesota’s self-inflicted wounds invigorate WRA crowd

Did someone say free Chick-fil-A?

For all the fans decked out in purple, white and black at Welsh-Ryan Saturday, free chicken sandwiches were provided courtesy of the Golden Gophers’ marked struggles shooting at the charity stripe (16-of-26).

Minnesota’s inability to connect on free throws were compounded by its inability to hold onto the basketball. The Golden Gophers turned it over an astonishing 11 times in the first half, resulting in 14 points for the Cats. Though the ball security was better in the second period, the calamitous early showing was too much to contend with.

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Twitter: @CervantesPAlex 

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