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

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

The Daily Northwestern

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Rapid Recap: Northwestern 80, Nebraska 68

Francesco Thorik-Saboia/The Daily Northwestern
Senior center Matthew Nicholson grabs a board in the lane.

Fresh off consecutive overtime losses and three overtime periods in its last four contests, Northwestern returned to friendly territory for a rematch against Nebraska Wednesday.

The squads last faced off a month ago when the Cornhuskers (16-8, 6-7 Big Ten) defended their homecourt in a 75-69 victory to hand the Wildcats (16-7, 7-5 Big Ten) their third conference defeat.

Looking to extend its 5-0 home conference record this season, NU regained its composure and handily put away Nebraska in a wire-to-wire 80-68 victory packed with postseason implications.

By the first media timeout, the ‘Cats held a 10-6 lead with graduate student guards Ryan Langborg and Boo Buie hitting a pair of 3-pointers.

NU refused to relinquish its lead, extending it to six after Langborg converted on an and-one layup with nearly 12 minutes left in the half. 

Much to Nebraska’s chagrin, that layup began a 14-2 run in favor of the hosts, culminating in junior guard Brooks Barnhizer’s putback layup that put the score at 30-15. During this run, senior guard Ty Berry and Langborg collected six points each.

Throughout the period, the ‘Cats capitalized on their long range prowess. NU’s first-half advantage peaked at 42-25 on Buie’s fourth 3-pointer as the team entered intermission with a 16-point lead.

At the break, Buie led all scorers with 17 points as Langborg followed closely behind with 13 of his own. The ‘Cats also exerted themselves physically, holding a 2-to-7 turnover advantage and collecting eight offensive boards. 

The second half began somewhat sloppily with both teams combining for six turnovers within the first three minutes.

The Cornhuskers took advantage of NU’s cold 3-of-10 shooting clip to begin the period and managed to cut the lead to 11 with 13 minutes remaining.

However, two consecutive 3-pointers by sophomore forward Nick Martinelli gave the ‘Cats a 19-point lead and the momentum to pull away for good.

NU finished out the game never letting the scoring margin drop below nine as Nebraska was only able to string together a few baskets at a time — resulting in a case of too little, too late.

Here are three takeaways from the ‘Cats’ home victory against the Cornhuskers.

1. The NU explodes from deep 

Coach Chris Collins’ squad entered Wednesday averaging 8.5 3-point baskets a game, good for fourth in the conference. 

So, when the ‘Cats ended the first half having not only attempted 16 shots from beyond the arc, but also converted half of them, presumably not even Collins would have predicted such an outcome.

The backcourt trio of Buie, Langborg and Berry led the way for NU’s 3-point barrage with each of the guards tallying at least two 3-pointers before the break.

At one point midway through the first half, Berry and Langborg traded baskets from behind the arc, dropping nine points in less than 90 seconds.

2. Buie earns redemption from January’s Nebraska blunder

To say Buie’s performance at Nebraska last month was uncharacteristic would be an understatement. The preseason All-American managed just nine points on 2-of-15 shooting, by far his lowest scoring output in a conference game all season. 

With the teams’ last matchup in the rearview mirror, Buie proved his doubters wrong and showcased a plethora of offensive tools in the first half. 

After earning a pair of baskets within the game’s first two minutes, the graduate student converted on four of his next six attempts to extend the ‘Cats’ double-digit lead. 

Buie was the main catalyst for NU’s long range production, going 4-of-5 from downtown and assisting on three shots.

3. NU benefits from some Martinelli Magic

Nebraska guard Brice Williams’ 3-pointer to cut the ‘Cats’ lead to 11 threatened to provide the visiting team the spark it needed to make a run. 

With Buie struggling to find a shot and the rest of the team slowing down offensively, Collins turned to Martinelli, who had zero first-half points.

Following a pair of Buie free throws, Martinelli went on a 10-0 run by himself, extending NU’s lead to a game-high 21 points. The sophomore was trusted with ball-handling duties on several possessions, finding shots often late in the shot clock and knocking down floaters in traffic.

By the final buzzer, Martinelli scored 15 of the ‘Cats’ 33 second-half points on 6-of-9 from the field.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @lucaskim_15

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