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: No. 9 Northwestern 77, No. 8 Florida Atlantic 65 (OT)

Angeli Mittal/The Daily Northwestern
Junior guard Brooks Barnhizer attempts a layup against Florida Atlantic Friday.

NEW YORK — Northwestern is back rolling in the Big Dance.

After suffering a narrow loss to 2-seed UCLA in the second round of the 2023 NCAA Tournament, the Wildcats fought their way back with a new-look roster to secure their second-straight 21-win regular season and third tournament appearance in program history.

Matched up against 8-seed Florida Atlantic in the first round of this year’s tournament, 9-seed NU once again secured a second round berth with a 77-65 overtime victory at Barclays Center on Friday.

It was a defensive battle from the jump. The Owls’ first three offensive possessions resulted in either a turnover or jump ball, while the ’Cats also failed to convert on the other end. By the first media timeout, the squads stood at a 4-4 stalemate. 

Around the period’s midway point, NU finally strung a few buckets together as junior guard Brooks Barnhizer knocked down his first two field goals of the game to gain a 12-8 advantage.

FAU immediately responded with a 10-2 run, capped by guard Johnell Davis’ layup to take a 18-14 lead. Over this stretch, the ’Cats suffered a scoring drought over five minutes long during which they went 0-of-9 from the field.

At the intermission, the score stood at 20-19 with the Owls taking a last second lead on Davis’ buzzer-beating floater. 

Barnhizer paced NU with seven points with no other ’Cat collecting more than one field goal in the first half. Leading the game was Davis with 11 points on 4-of-9 shooting.

In a complete turnaround, NU opened up the half converting on three consecutive shots, including graduate student guard Boo Buie’s 3-pointer and two jumpers from graduate student guard Ryan Langborg.

Following a trey from FAU guard Brandon Weatherspoon, the ’Cats proceeded to go on a 9-2 run to take a 35-27 lead — their largest of the game up to that point.

Despite Owl guard Bryan Greenlee scoring FAU’s next seven points, NU had an answer for each of its opponent’s scores. The teams traded baskets up until the 5:22 mark, when Weatherspoon’s 3-pointer cut the ’Cats’ lead to four.

A flagrant foul charged on sophomore forward Nick Martinelli allowed the Owls to come within two points, and two free throws from junior center Vladislav Goldin tied the game up at 56 apiece with 2:44 remaining.

FAU took a late lead on Davis’ first points of the second half, going up 58-56 with a minute on the clock. However, Barnhizer’s game-tying layup with nine seconds left would be the last of regulation as the game headed to overtime.

NU began the extra period on fire, going 5-of-5 from the field, and didn’t look back. 

Langborg finished with 12 points in overtime, propelling the ’Cats to victory and continuing his March Madness prowess that began last year at Princeton.

Here are three takeaways from NU’s first round overtime victory over FAU.

1. Poor shooting and high nerves evident from the start

Sloppy play defined the game’s first handful of possessions.

The two teams combined to start out 1-of-9 shooting, and it took two-and-a-half minutes before either squad scored a basket. 

NU’s first field goal make came after nearly five minutes of play on Buie’s 3-pointer to tie the game at four points apiece.

With FAU up 8-6 nine minutes into the game, the squads were shooting a collective 18.2% from the field with offense continuing to be few and far between. 

Both teams also were ice cold from long range, combining to start out 1-of-15 from beyond the arc.

2. The Owls clamp Buie down early

Friday marked the potentially final game of Buie’s storied collegiate career, but the Owls evidently paid no attention.

After Buie’s 3-point make five minutes following tipoff, the AP All-American Honorable Mention failed to convert on a field goal throughout the rest of the half.

FAU’s tactic to put a perimeter defender on Buie starting from nearly 35 feet out stifled the guard, limiting space for him to maneuver and get a clear shot off. 

However with the rest of the ’Cats also failing to produce, coach Chris Collins’ offense completely faltered in the first half, shooting at a meager 7-of-33 clip.

The only reason NU entered the half down only one point was its defense, which held the Owls to 33.3% shooting and forced 12 turnovers.

3. Both offenses come alive in the second half

Before and after the intermission were seemingly two completely different games. 

Following the break, both teams began to find a rhythm, leaving their dismal offensive first halves in the rearview mirror.

On sophomore forward Luke Hunger’s free throw seven minutes into the second period, the ’Cats notched their 38th point, already doubling their entire first-half scoring total.

After going 2-of-12 from behind the arc in the first half, the NU proceeded to drain four of its next six 3-point attempts, including three treys from Buie. 

FAU likewise turned on its production with both Goldin and Weatherspoon scoring in double figures over the last 20 minutes.

By the end of overtime, the ’Cats’ numbers jumped out of the box score with Langborg and Buie finishing with 27 and 22 points, respectively. Barnhizer was also a force to be reckoned with, securing his 10th double-double of the season.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @lucaskim_15

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