By Eric Rynston-Lobel
After having just lost two Big Ten games by a total of four points, the Wildcats could’ve stopped playing after falling behind by 15 in the second half against their cross-town rival DePaul Blue Demons. Instead, the Cardiac Cats lived up to their nickname Saturday night. Catapulted by a 25-0 run, Northwestern ultimately came away with 75-68 victory to improve to 7-3 overall on the season.
After a rough first half, forward Vic Law came alive, finishing the game leading all scorers with 25 points. Center Dererk Pardon snapped a two-game streak of scoring 20 or more points by posting only 10, but junior A.J. Turner helped pick up the slack with a 24-point breakout performance.
Northwestern Head Coach Chris Collins said that he has been emphasizing the law of averages with Turner for a while.
“If you’re a good shooter and you put in the time, it’s only a matter of time before you’re going to start knocking them down,” Collins said.
Moving forward, Collins added that he’s looking forward to getting back on the practice court, as his team concluded a stretch of seven games in 16 days Saturday night.
“We really haven’t had a chance to practice much. When we play this many games in a short time, you’re trying to get your guys rest, and when you are together, you’re doing game plan revision,” he said.
Turner was quick to deflect credit to his teammates following the win. When asked about needing to contribute more due to Pardon’s modest scoring performance, Turner said that “ten points is still contributing a lot.”
He added that overall, this game goes to show how the entire team is able to fight even when they may not be having their best individual games. This was something Collins also alluded to when he mentioned that the guys kept fighting despite a rough first half.
As for DePaul, they were led in scoring by senior Femi Olujobi, who had 22 points in 32 minutes.
“We have to get up and punch back,” he said about his mindset when the momentum was clearly swinging in Northwestern’s favor.
Despite cutting the deficit to within one possession with about half a minute remaining, DePaul would get no closer thanks to free throw makes from Law and Anthony Gaines.
After taking this week off for finals, the Wildcats will return to action to close out their non-conference schedule with three straight home games against Chicago State (12/17), Oklahoma (12/21) and Columbia University (12/30).