By Kevin Sweeney
For the second straight game, the Northwestern men’s basketball team got a scare from a mid-major foe.
However, the Wildcats once again found a way to win, taking down the pesky Peacocks of St. Peter’s 75-66 behind a balanced offensive attack that featured all 5 starters in double figures. Senior point guard Bryant McIntosh led the way with 17 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists for the Wildcats in front of a sparse crowd at Allstate Arena on Monday.
After trailing late in Friday night’s contest against Loyola (MD), Chris Collins had to be hoping for a more dominant performance tonight. But after a 11-3 run to open the game behind some very stingy defense, the Peacocks worked their way back into the contest. They shared the ball effectively with 10 assists on 10 made field goals and connected on five first-half three-pointers to hang around, even claiming the lead for a brief stretch of the opening period before eventually going into the locker room trailing 32-25.
The Wildcats came out of the gates firing in the second half, finding their stroke from long range and extending a lead that grew to as much as 18. Northwestern was able to get to the line 24 times and drained a remarkable 23 of those attempts, but that still wasn’t enough to put away St. Peter’s. That said, the result never really seemed in doubt in the second half, as the Northwestern lead never dropped below eight.
Beyond McIntosh, the Wildcat frontcourt of Dererk Pardon and Gavin Skelly combined for 29 points and 10 rebounds. Skelly provided a huge lift with a pair of dunks early and a 3 during that early second half run. And while the offense for Northwestern wasn’t always pretty, the Wildcats were able to register 75 points on a stingy Peacock defense that conceded more than 70 points just 5 times all of last season.
Nick Griffin led the way for the Peacocks (0-2) with 19 points. Cameron Jones and Sam Idowu each added 14.
The Wildcats return to action Wednesday in a huge non-conference showdown at 8 p.m. against Creighton as part of the Gavitt Games.