Men’s basketball runs over Fairleigh Dickinson

By Gavin Dorsey

It may be early, but Northwestern is already off to its best start since 2014-15.

The Wildcats continued their early-season men’s basketball dominance Thursday as they defeated Fairleigh Dickinson 82-46 to better their unblemished record to 4-0. The team’s suffocating defense throughout the game held the Knights to very poor shooting splits.

Northwestern jumped out of the gates hot, allowing the game’s first bucket before scoring 15 straight points, seven of which were from senior forward Pete Nance. The initial scoring outbreak halted, however, as Fairleigh Dickinson cut the deficit to just seven behind some sloppy offensive play from Northwestern.  

Then came the drought. For over eight minutes, Northwestern’s defense dominated the Knights, allowing virtually nothing en route to a 19-3 run to all but end the possibility of a close game. With six and a half minutes remaining in the first half, junior point guard Boo Buie took the lead on a fastbreak opportunity, dishing a no-look pass to first-year forward Casey Simmons, who tapped the ball to Nance to dunk the flashy two points. Northwestern went into halftime doubling up Fairleigh Dickinson, 40-20.

The ‘Cats picked up right where they left out of the half, with Nance and junior forward Robbie Beran drilling three-pointers early. Buie added an and-1 layup falling away from the basket, while Simmons nailed another three to cap off a 12-4 run to start the half. Following its early scoring run, Northwestern went on a five-minute dry spell that saw only one basket fall until a Buie step-back three put the Wildcats up by 27. Northwestern continued to run a very efficient offense throughout the night, finding open passes in the paint and behind the arc. With under four minutes to go and a 34 point lead, Northwestern played many younger players; all showed promise in a game that was all but over.

As shown in the stat sheet, Fairleigh Dickinson was outmatched by Northwestern in nearly every aspect of the game. The Wildcats outshot the Knights 52.7% to 30% but even further surpassed them from beyond the 3-point line. Northwestern shot 10-of-20 from distance, while FDU made only two of its 15 attempts. Additionally, the Knights were out-rebounded 41 to 28 and out-assisted 21 to seven.

The big men dominated the overall scoring distribution, with three of the four double-digit scorers for the Wildcats being forwards. Fresh off his 20-point/100% shooting game Tuesday, junior Ryan Young provided a spark plug off the bench with 20 points on 6-of-8 shooting. Nance scored 19 points on 7-of-8 shooting (2-of-2 from deep) and filled out the rest of the stat sheet with 11 rebounds, two assists, two blocks and a steal. The third big in the rotation, Beran, added to the overall paint presence of Young and Nance with 10 points and two blocks of his own. All three simply played bully-ball against a Fairleigh Dickinson team that was unable to stop them.

Northwestern now will travel to New Jersey for the Legends Classic to face off against the Providence Friars Monday in what looks to be its first real test of the season.