After an impressive 102-52 exhibition route of McKendree last week, Northwestern looked poised to start fast against Houston-Baptist Friday night. That was not the case, as the Wildcats overcame a tough first half to win 65 to 58 behind Alex Olah’s second career double-double.
The Huskies came out firing to begin the game, taking an early 10-2 lead they wouldn’t lose until late in the first half. Northwestern would make some noise — thanks to their new and exciting freshman class. Bryant McIntosh led all first-half scorers with 9 points and 4 assists, continuing his good play from the week before.
JerShon Cobb and Tre Demps struggled to find the net in the first half, both going 0 for 4. Joined by fellow freshman Vic Law, McIntosh helped keep the Wildcats in the game.
“The two freshman were fantastic,” Coach Collins said. “I thought B-mac really carried us for awhile. He’s a baller.”
The momentum changed with under five minutes to play in the first half as McIntosh seemed to get in rhythm. The Huskies countered with solid play of their own, giving them a three-point lead at halftime.
Alex Olah was the story in the second half with his more physical play. Coach Collins noticed something was off in the first half— and let him know during the break.
“[HBU] was bothering Alex early,” he said. “We had to take halftime to settle him down and get on him. At that position, we should have the advantage every night we play.”
Olah gave the Wildcats that advantage early in the second half. After collecting just 3 points in the opening half, he finished with 21. Last year, Olah was able to take over games when the ‘Cats were struggling. He did the same tonight, rising up to give the fans at Welsh-Ryan something to cheer about. His 10 rebounds were desperately needed as well after losing that margin to the Huskies 21 to 15 in the first half.
Olah said he knew he had to be more physical when he came out for the second half.
“I knew I was soft in the first half… so I just went out there and didn’t stop,” Olah said.
Despite Northwestern’s improved second half play, the Huskies wouldn’t go away. Senior Ricmonds Vilde led the Huskies in scoring, with 13 points and 10 rebounds. His double-double was a major reason the Huskies kept the Wildcats close until the last few minutes.
Northwestern is back in action Monday as they head East to take on Brown at 6pm. The ‘Cats begin the season playing six games in a twelve day stretch.