Rapid Recap: Northwestern 69, Ohio State 63


Daily file photo by Angeli Mittal

Sophomore guard Brooks Barnhizer drives to the rim with contention from Wisconsin’s defense. Barnhizer stole the show Thursday with 19 points against the Buckeyes.

Aayushya Agarwal, Reporter

Back in January, when Northwestern hosted Ohio State to start the New Year, it was served a comprehensive defeat. Six weeks later, with the two teams going on completely different trajectories, the Wildcats got their revenge, being victorious at Columbus for only the third time since 1977. 

NU opened the scoring with a running layup by junior center Matthew Nicholson. Midway through the first half, a corner three by senior forward Robbie Beran, capped back-to-back-to-back threes by the Cats’ three senior captains.

On queue with previous games, NU continued exchanging leads with Ohio State throughout the first half. Sophomore guard Brook Barnhizer’s running layup gave the squad a 17-15 at the 8 minute mark. Towards the latter half of the first half, both teams went cold offensively, with the Cats converting one shot on eleven attempts over a five minute stretch. 

Freshman forward Nick Martinelli’s spinning floater snapped a five minute scoring drought and a 8-0 Buckeye run. In addition, back-to-back triples from Barnhizer and senior guard Boo Buie quickly gave NU the advantage late in the first half. 

Over the second half, the Cats pulled away from the Buckeyes, going on separate 6-0 and 7-0 runs down the stretch, capped by a pull-up three point jumper by Barnhizer to extend the squad’s lead to a game-high nine. A three pointer by redshirt senior Chase Audige and a ferocious dunk by Nicholson late put the game away for NU.  

While in the first showdown, NU struggled to contend with Ohio State’s high-attacking offense, this time around, the team got vengeance and gave its conference opponents a bittersweet ending on their home court. 

Here are three takeaways from the Cats’ win over the Buckeyes.


        1. Buie and Barnhizer the lone bright spots in Cats collective offensive struggles 

As of late, the Cats have struggled offensively. The same continued on Thursday night, when the team struggled to shoot the ball. Outside of Buie, the Cats went 3-for-11 from beyond the arc and 9-for-25 from the field in the first half. 

During the first half, Buie propelled the Cats offense. The senior guard scored his first points on a running layup, followed by a three which gave the Cats an early 12-11 lead. Towards the end of the first half, the senior guard drilled a pullup three, scoring the Cats final four of NU’s six points. By halftime, the New York native scored 9 of NU’s 28 first half points. 

In the second half, Barnhizer joined Buie providing valuable offensive contributions. A running layup and a pullup three were part of twelve second half points for the sophomore guard. Buie kept his excellent offensive form as well, scoring a running layup and burying a jumper as part of ten second-half points. By the end of the game, Buie and Barnhizer combined to score 38 of the Cats 69 total points. 

        2. Cats strong perimeter defense keeps game in check 

A large part of the Cats one-point halftime lead was their ability to defend the three. Over the course of the first half, NU did not allow a single three, with the Buckeyes missing all nine of their attempts. This excellent defense was in full force towards the beginning of the game, where Ohio State attempted four threes in the game’s first five minutes. 

Throughout the first half, Audige and Buie tightly contested many Buckeye threes. The veteran duo forced Ohio State guards to go 0-for-5 from deep, ensuring NU remained at striking distance throughout the first half even when Cats shots were not falling. 

The Cats ability to prevent the Buckeyes from converting any shots beyond the uplifted the entire defensive unit. NU forced multiple minute Ohio State scoring droughts, capped by a nearly-five minute scoreless stretch midway through the first half. Over the second half, the Cats continued defending the perimeter at an elite level, only allowing one Buckeye three on five attempts. 

        3. Defense continues to force turnovers 

Much of NU’s success this season has come from its ability to force turnovers on the defense side, especially through active hands in the passing lanes. On Thursday, the Cats continued doing just this, creating difficulties for the Buckeyes to generate consistent successful offensive possessions. Steals by Audige and junior guard Ty Berry over the first several minutes were part of three NU steals in the first half. 

While the Cats continued getting steals, the team also forced turnovers through other ways. A team-effort forced a shot clock violation and a charging foul forced by Buie enabled the Buckeyes to not gain any sort of momentum over stretches of the first half. 

Over the second half, the Cats remained vigilant on the defensive end. Steals by both Audige and Buie were part of eight forced NU turnovers in the second half. If the squad can continue forcing turnovers as they have all season, there is no stopping this team come March. 

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Twitter: @aayushyagarwal7

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