By Ethan Cohen
It was Gothic Night at Welsh-Ryan Arena against Michigan State on Tuesday, and for ‘Cats fans, this one was like something out of a Mary Shelley novel.
When these teams met in East Lansing earlier this year it took a late Northwestern miss and overtime for the Spartans to win. This game was the opposite as MSU dominated an undermanned Northwestern squad in all aspects.
Bryant McIntosh started the scoring off, getting to the line and making both of his shots to stake NU to a 2-0 lead less than 90 seconds into the game. However, that would be the last time the ‘Cats would lead. A three-pointer by MSU’s Denzel Valentine, the first of their 13 threes, put the Spartans up 3-2.
While it was already starting to feel like a blowout early in this one, Northwestern kept it close for the first ten minutes of the game. Thanks to good half-court defense and nine points from Tre Demps, who would end with a team-high 20, Northwestern was only down 16-13 with 10:47 to go. But that’s when it got bad. Quickly.After a string of close losses, in each of the last four games, Northwestern has been undone by huge runs by their opponents. There was a similar story in this game, only much worse. Behind missed shots by NU and 6 three-pointers from the Spartans MSU went on a 22-0 run starting with just over ten minutes in the half.
After the game Michigan State Head Coach Tom Izzo said of the first half “we might have played our best half of basketball, but… I think Northwestern might have played its worst half.”
While Demps was 4 of 7 from the field in the first half, the rest of the team was 0-15. Add to that Northwestern’s ten turnovers and only 13 rebounds and this one was over before the break.
Northwestern’s sloppy play continued into the second half, as the ‘Cats went the first three minutes without scoring. With 12 minutes left in the game MSU was up 35, its largest lead of the game.
With the Spartans slowing the tempo and the game out of hand the Wildcats started to find some rhythm. Alex Olah, Vic Law and Demps all contributed and Northwestern turned a 35-point deficit into a 24-point loss.
While Demps led all scorers with 20, the ‘Cats missed the production of Nathan Taphorn and JerShon Cobb, who were out with injuries. The duo combined for 21 points in the first matchup between these two teams and while Law contributed nine points, seven rebounds and three steals, it was not enough on this night when Northwestern Coach Chris Collins said, “I don’t think we played hard enough to be worthy of winning.”
Northwestern is back in action on Sunday at home against Iowa, when they’ll try to snap their ten-game losing streak. Collins said he hopes to spend the time off finding more fight in his team.