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

Email Newsletter

Sign up to receive our email newsletter in your inbox.



Men’s Basketball: Northwestern’s ability to turn defense into offense catalyzes wire-to-wire 80-68 victory over Nebraska

Francesco Thorik-Saboia/The Daily Northwestern
Sophomore forward Nick Martinelli guards Nebraska guard Keisei Tominaga. In Northwestern’s wire-to-wire victory over the Cornhuskers, the ’Cats limited Tominaga to 11 points.

Returning to friendly territory in Welsh-Ryan Arena, Northwestern hosted Nebraska Wednesday night, hoping to end its two-game losing streak. 

When the teams met in Lincoln last month, the Wildcats (16-7, 7-5 Big Ten) fell to the Cornhuskers (16-8, 6-7 Big Ten) in a game which saw graduate student guard Boo Buie score just nine points — his lowest over this season’s conference slate. 

Entering play with a perfect conference record at home, NU continued its home success, handily dispatching the visitors in a wire-to-wire 80-68 victory, avenging its early defeat to their conference foe. 

Fresh off of a season-high 25 point performance — which included six 3-pointers — in last week’s loss to No. 2 Purdue, senior guard Ty Berry remained involved in the offensive end prior to a knee injury ending his night prematurely 

While NU has shot the lights out from deep recently, the team’s ability to turn defense into offense kept the visitors in check. 

“We always value the defensive side of the ball first,” graduate student guard Ryan Langborg said. “Our success beyond the arc has made it difficult for us to guard. We’re playing on closeouts and we’re able to get into the paint and find each other.” 

Following a Cornhusker offensive foul, Buie capitalized on the other end, canning a stepback 3-pointer. Minutes later, the All-American playmaker’s steal led to a fastbreak layup from Langborg. 

Langborg tallied 13 of his 18 points during the first half. The Princeton transfer also corralled seven rebounds and dished six assists on Wednesday. 

In the final three minutes before the intermission, the hosts generated momentum on the defensive end of the floor — holding Nebraska scoreless from the field.  

By the half, NU held a sturdy 47-31 advantage. The ’Cats scored 14 points off seven Cornhusker turnovers while containing star guard Keisei Tominaga to five points over the first frame and 11 points on the game. 

“We (had) to stay dialed in at all times,” coach Chris Collins said “(Tominaga’s) movement is great. Our main thing with him was to take away his layups and threes and make him play in the midrange. Our guys had a great sense of urgency on him.” 

But, no lead has been safe throughout NU’s campaign. After blowing a double-digit lead to lose in overtime only a few days prior at Minnesota, the ’Cats needed to ensure the visitors didn’t cut into the deficit. 

An integral part of the ’Cats defensive success included restricting Cornhusker forwards Josiah Allick and Rienk Mast. Allick, who tallied a team-high 15 points in NU’s loss to Nebraska a few weeks ago, was held scoreless on Wednesday.

Collins said junior guard Brooks Barnhizer played a pivotal role Wednesday.

“(Barnhizer’s) defense on Mast was huge,” Collins said. “(Despite) giving up size and strength, he applied pressure out in the perimeter guarding him and didn’t get hurt in the post. His defense on Mast — a player who has been as hot as anybody in this league — was the testament to the player he is.” 

NU continued to turn physical defense into quick offense after the break. 

Buie’s steal led to Barnhizer’s 3-pointer. Minutes later, sophomore forward Nick Martinelli capitalized on a pair of Nebraska turnovers and canned two treys — part of a 10-0 run that extended NU’s advantage to a commanding 64-43 lead. 

While holding a 20-point lead for the first time all evening, NU brushed off one final Nebraska push when it trimmed the hosts lead to 12 with less than five minutes remaining. 

Barnhizer’s steal and dunk served as the proverbial dagger while the ’Cats maintained a 16-point lead by the game’s final under-four timeout and cruised toward victory.

By the end of the contest, the team’s points off turnovers discrepancy was the difference. NU tallied 26 points off of 17 Cornhusker turnovers — a significantly higher total than the visitors’ 10 points off of seven ‘Cats turnovers. 

“We had a lot of energy, and we were sharp,” Collins said. “This was a good win and I’m really proud of the guys. We dealt with adversity, but (the) guys stepped up, and we took care of our home floor tonight, which was huge.” 

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @aayushyagarwal7

Related Stories: 

Rapid Recap: Northwestern 80, Nebraska 68

Men’s Basketball: Agarwal: Northwestern’s inability to close road efforts looms large in Minnesota meltdown

Rapid Recap: Minnesota 75, Northwestern 66 (OT)

More to Discover