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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Rapid Recap: Northwestern 91, Detroit Mercy 59

Daily file photo by Carlotta Angiolillo
Senior guard Ty Berry, senior center Matthew Nicholson and sophomore forward Nick Martinelli get set on defense. Martinelli poured in a career-high 22 points while Berry added 16 in Northwestern’s 91-59 win over Detroit Mercy.

Fresh off becoming the first team to ever knock off a pair of AP No. 1 squads in a calendar year, Northwestern hosted winless Detroit Mercy Sunday at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

On the heels of a blistering 31-point, nine-assist outing against Purdue, graduate student guard Boo Buie drew the bulk of the Titans’ (0-10, 0-2 Horizon League) attention in the halfcourt. The Albany, New York, native was held in check for most of the game, scoring just five points on 2-of-9 shooting. Still, Buie’s impact was felt elsewhere as he added a team-high eight assists and five rebounds in the 91-59 win.

Graduate student guard Ryan Langborg and sophomore forward Nick Martinelli picked up the offensive slack in the first half in Buie’s stead. Langborg led the Wildcats (7-1, 1-0 Big Ten) with 16 points on 4-of-7 shooting from beyond the arc, while Martinelli tied his career-high of 11 points in just 10 minutes of action off the bench. 

The pair’s performances helped fuel a prolific first half offensive performance from NU. The ‘Cats notched a season-high 43 points in the opening 20 minutes, shooting 50% from the field and 53% from 3-point range. Coach Chris Collins’ squad spread the wealth, assisting 13 of its 15 made field goals while only turning over the ball twice. 

Out of halftime, a pair of buckets from senior guard Ty Berry fueled a 7-0 run to increase the NU’s advantage to 19 in less than four minutes. The hosts’ continued offensive barrage combined with a suffocating defensive stand in the second half to eventually fuel a 32-point victory. 

Here are three takeaways from Sunday’s game.

1. Langborg, Berry and Martinelli spark ‘Cats offense

Entering the Big Ten opener against the Boilermakers, Langborg had connected on just 5-of-27 attempts (18.5%) from 3-point range. Following his team’s defeat, Purdue coach Matt Painter expressed that, despite Langborg’s early season shooting woes, he told his team that “it was just a matter of time” before the proverbial lid on the rim would lift for the Princeton transfer.

In the two games since, including Sunday’s victory, Langborg has nailed nine of his 14 3-point attempts — aptly illustrating the shooting prowess which brought the California native to Evanston. 

While the first half might have been Langborg’s show, the second half belonged to Berry. The Kansas native recorded 11 of his 16 points in the second frame, canning two 3s. The senior guard has been a fixture in Collins’ rotation for years, but his recent five-game stretch — in which he has tallied 13 or more points in each contest — might be the best run of his career. 

And then there was Martinelli. Donning a white headband, the Chicagoland native, who went scoreless in 19 minutes against the Boilermakers, had a career day against Detroit Mercy. Martinelli posted a career-high 22 points on 10-of-12 shooting, along with six boards and three assists to boot.

2. Opponent offensive rebounding still a concern

On a day where few grievances can be directed at NU’s play, one stat in particular stands out: the Titans’ offensive rebounding numbers. 

Facing a mountain in the paint in reigning National Player of the Year Zach Edey and one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country in Purdue, it was no surprise that the ‘Cats surrendered 16 offensive boards. Defensive rebounding, especially with a quartet of starting guards, has been a point of emphasis for Collins this season. 

Detroit Mercy, which entered the game ranked 261st nationally in offensive rebounding percentage, according to KenPom, won the battle on the offensive glass, snagging 11 boards.

Though it was ultimately to no avail, providing a number of second-chance opportunities to opponents is an area for Collins to address ahead of the Big Ten gauntlet commencing in January.

3. Could the ‘Cats be ranked come Monday?

When the fifth iteration of this season’s AP poll dropped last Monday, the ‘Cats, despite pulling off an upset victory over the top-ranked Boilermakers, were not included among the nation’s top 25 teams. Collins’ crew was slotted fourth — or 29th overall — in the receiving votes category, trailing Virginia, Ohio State and TCU.

Five ranked squads — No. 7 Gonzaga, No. 13 Colorado State, No. 14 BYU, No. 15 Miami and No. 25 San Diego State — suffered defeats to unranked squads since the poll was released. Two of the teams which received more votes than NU — Ohio State and TCU — also lost over the last seven days.

Boasting wins over then-No. 1 Purdue and Dayton and just one loss on their resume — a nine-point defeat to Mississippi State three weeks ago — the ‘Cats have a good case to land on many voters’ top 25 ballots come Monday. 

NU has been ranked just five times in Collins’ 11-year tenure and has never stayed ranked for more than two consecutive weeks. 

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @CervantesPAlex 

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