Northwestern Men’s Basketball vs. Dayton Recap

By Gabi Egozi

An electric Friday night atmosphere overtook Welsh-Ryan Arena as the Northwestern men’s basketball team came up with a gritty win, defeating the Dayton Flyers 71-66 in a close battle. 

“I got a rush of energy just when I walked down the floor,” head coach Chris Collins said “I felt like I was back in the ‘90s and that I could maybe go out there and get a dunk or something. The energy and the crowd was awesome. I want this to be the norm of what Welsh-Ryan is. We’re not perfect. We have a long way to go to get better, but how could you not cheer for the group guys we have.” 

Northwestern came out with a dominant and composed effort, attacking in the paint and spreading the floor well to put pressure on the Flyers. Heading into the first media timeout, the ‘Cats took a 9-3 lead over the Flyers. However, after a hot shooting streak from beyond the three-point line, Dayton was able to stay in the game and keep it a close contest.

Boo Buie was especially targeted by Dayton defenders, being forced into two turnovers early on in the half. Despite the pressure, the ‘Cats seemingly controlled the first half of game action and when things seemed to get close, or Dayton strung together a run of their own, there was always a response from the ‘Cats.

With a little bit under five minutes left in the first half, the Flyers took a one-point lead after they began to tighten up on both ends of the floor. 

Nick Martinelli created some momentum before the end of the half after making a layup and taking advantage of an and-one opportunity, sparking an 11-0 run for Northwestern, and sending the ‘Cats into the locker room with a 10-point lead. 

Boo Buie, Ryan Langborg, and Nick Martinelli each had a huge impact to give the ‘Cats a comfortable 35-25 lead heading into the break. 

Northwestern still seemed to have the momentum coming out of the locker room as Ryan Langborg drained a three-pointer at the beginning of the second half. However, after giving up a few fouls and missing some shots, Northwestern’s 11-point lead was completely erased as the game was tied up at 38 just four minutes into the second half. 

The Flyers were able to capitalize on Northwestern’s carelessness with the ball near the rim and in the paint. Additionally, Dayton made the adjustment at the half to double Martinelli with full court pressure, making it imperative that others step in and contribute for the ‘Cats.

Brooks Barnhizer was able to provide some huge minutes to keep Northwestern in the game as he hit a tough stepback jumper, took a charge and got to the line, and attacked at the rim for a layup. 

The game remained close heading into the final 10 minutes and with a little under nine minutes to play, Boo Buie picked up his fourth foul, forcing coach Collins to quickly sub him out. 

However, although one of Northwestern’s top players and contributors had to watch from the bench, other players were able to step up to hold and build upon the lead for the ‘Cats. 

Ty Berry was huge for Northwestern late in the second half when things got tight, hitting back-to-back 3-pointers, which sparked energy within the team and the crowd to help the ‘Cats in their biggest stretch of the game.

“It was awesome,” Brooks Barnhizer said. “And I’m really happy for him and just happy that he could do that, because those two threes were a huge reason why we won the game. ” 

With just under a minute left in the game, Northwestern had a three-point lead and relied on their free throw shooting to secure the game and build a comfortable lead. The ‘Cats were eventually able to hold on to secure the 71-66 victory, improving their record to 2-0 on the season. 

“I mean it’s honestly just awesome playing for the fans again tonight, and it’s so much fun,” graduate transfer and guard Ryan Langborg said. “Every time we had a big play it’s like all the nerves and all the butterflies go away and you just fall into the game. It was fantastic, and it is obviously great to get the win.”

Up next, the ‘Cats look forward to hosting Western Michigan in their last home game before heading on the road for the next 2 weeks.