By: Fredrick Bugyei
A sold Out Welsh-Ryan Arena was on hand for the much anticipated return of Scottie Lindsey against Rutgers. Though Lindsey struggled, the Wildcats were able to hang on to a nail biting 69-65 victory against the Scarlet Knights
A game most people anticipated would be a defense stand off, featured great shot making in the first half. Northwestern shot a sizzling 53.3% while Rutgers shot a remarkable 50%. Northwestern sophomore center Dererk Pardon set tone early with 8 points and 7 boards within the first 10 minutes of the game.
Much of the first half was a seesaw battle and at the 10:20 mark Rutgers was hanging tough with a 17-16 lead. A quick 9-0 run by the ‘Cats forced Rutgers to take their first timeout at the 8:17 mark.
The back and forth action continued and was punctuated by a beautiful lob from McIntosh to Law extending Northwestern’s lead to 28-21. At the under 4 media timeout the ‘Cats still lead by 7, but the Scarlet Knights ended first half on an 7-2 run. After the intriguing first half, the Wildcats lead 39-36.
The 2nd half offered a scary view of a struggling Northwestern squad. After a nearly mistake free first half the Wildcats only managed to score 7 points in the first 12 minutes of the second half, and Rutgers forced 6 turnovers in that span.
With 9:13 left in the game, Rutgers lead 52-46 and Northwestern’s offense was floundering. Neither team managed to score for the next two minutes before Isaiah Brown made two free throws.
In the last five minutes the Wildcats needed an extra push and the crowd gave it to them.Welsh-Ryan exploded into a series of defense chants and cheers when the ‘Cats got a bucket. Northwestern got within one but then Nigel Johnson hit a deep three to put the Scarlet Knights back up by 4 with 3:59 left to go in the matchup.
The two teams traded free throw conversions before Gavin Skelly, who finished with 9 points, hit his second three of the evening to cut the deficit to one with 1:55 to play. Northwestern got the stop they needed and on their next possession, Vic Law missed a three, Isaiah Brown got the rebound and Bryant McIntosh converted a three pointer that sent the crowd into a frenzy. After getting a couple of key stops and going 4-6 from the free throw line, the ‘Cats escaped with the 69-65 victory.
Bryant McIntosh lead the comeback effort for the Wildcats scoring 18 points on 6-11 shooting and adding 6 assists to his box score. When commenting on the focus the Wildcats possesed late in the game McIntosh stated,“We wouldn’t win a game like this in the past” but that “we are older, we are more mature, and we just believe we should win this game.” Gavin Skelly poured in two huge threes, and cited the crowd as a big help for the team stating, “Welsh-Ryan is an amazing place to play now.” Dererk Pardon finished the game with 12 points and 8 boards.
As mentioned before Lindsey struggled in his first game back after an illness. The junior guard finished with 8 points on 2-8 shooting, and earned 4 fouls. Coach Collins explained Lindsey’s struggles were because he “didn’t workout, he didn’t exercise for three weeks.” Coach Collins also expressed regret for playing Lindsey for 24 minutes in the matchup but is confident that once he gets his conditioning back he will return to his improved form.
For Rutgers it was another tough loss in a hard fought game. 4 players scored double figures lead by Sanders with 17 and Johnson with 16. The Scarlet Knights also outrebounded the ‘Cats by 8 and scored 12 more points in the paint than Northwestern. Ultimately free throw shooting and lock-down defense in the final 8 minutes lead to Rutgers demise.
Going forward Northwestern will look avoid bad losses to against Illinois and Indiana, and pick up resume building wins against Michigan and Purdue. Catch the ‘Cats on the road face off against Illinois on Tuesday at 7:00pm.