Northwestern used one nice run near the end of the first half to turn a tight game into a 10-point halftime lead and then cruised to a 72-49 victory over Chicago State last night at Welsh-Ryan Arena. You can see photos from the game below.
The game gives Northwestern the most wins in program history at 19. That's a fitting tribute to seniors Jeremy Nash and Matt Steger. While Steger was unable to play in the game due to injury, Nash contributed 7 points, 4 steals, and 3 assists.
Interestingly enough though it was the presumed heir to Nash's place in the rotation - Alex Marcotullio - that returned from the freshman dead zone to lead the Wildcats. He put in 15 points - second on the team to John Shurna's 16 - on 5-7 three-point shooting. Marcotullio also had 3 assists and played 18 minutes. It was good that he was able to get some time on the court.
Of course fellow freshman Drew Crawford didn't have such a good night. He went 1-7 from the field and it is apparent that his hip injury is bothering him more than the team would like to admit. His box score has a lot of 2's in it as in 2 points, 2 assists, 2 turnovers, 2 steals (and 1 block). It's tough to hold up over such a long season.
On the other side of the court Chicago State did its thing. Carl Montgomery was in foul trouble for most of the game. He also struggled playing center against Luka Mirkovic and Davide Curletti and finished with 7 points on 2-9 shooting, though he did have 10 boards.
Chicago State was led in the scoring department by two forwards Antonio Lofton and Kabangu Tshinga Kasamba who each scored 12 points. Both are pretty athletic players and seemed to bother the Northwestern forwards a bit when they were driving to the hoop. Lofton shot 7 free throws. It's also worth noting though that he committed 19 turnovers.
Speaking of the turnovers, this was an incredibly sloppy game on both sides. Northwestern committed 17 turnovers. Of course the Wildcats also had 22 assists. At one point in the huddle Bill Carmody told his players to stop throwing alley-oops. When Shurna tried to do one on the next possession Carmody gave his star sophomore the quick hook.
Both of these teams have one conference game remaining on Saturday before their respective conference tournaments begin. Northwestern will play at Indiana on Saturday and Chicago State will welcome N.J.I.T. to the Jones Convocation Center for senior day festivities that will honor point guard Brandon Smith. Then the Cougars will head to Orem, Utah for the Great West Conference Tournament and a possible bid into the CollegeInsider.com Tournament and Northwestern will head to Indianapolis, IN for the Big Ten Tournament and an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. That right there tells you all you need to know about this game.
Notes: Smith scored 2 points and committed 4 turnovers against the Wildcats; Northwestern shot 7-14 from the free throw line - Michael Thompson (2-4) and Davide Curletti (4-8) were the big culprits; Northwestern out rebounded Chicago State 39-34, that's not great; Northwestern had 7 blocks; Chicago State shot 28.3% from the filed.