ROSEMONT, Ill — The Golden Gophers grabbed the opening tip from the Wildcats, but much like their shot clock violation blunder on that opening possession, Minnesota just couldn’t handle Northwestern on Wednesday night as the Wildcats notched a convincing 83-60 win to snap a two-game losing streak.
The Wildcats would open the game on a 5-0 run before allowing Minnesota to return the favor and tie the game up at 5-5 before jumping back in front for the remainder of the first half and the game, taking a 13-9 lead with 13:08 to play after Jordan Ash nailed a triple from the left wing.
After Jordan Ash knocked down another three from the top of the arc, Northwestern would run their lead out to 10 on the strength of a 9-0 run that featured the Ash triple, and a pair of Dererk Pardon jams much to the delight of the Allstate Arena crowd. Minnesota would snap the Northwestern run with a pair of free-throw makes, their only points in a stretch that saw them miss eight consecutive shots.
Northwestern wasn’t done running away from the Golden Gophers at that point as Scottie Lindsey knocked down a deep step-back three-pointer to make it a 25-14 Wildcats’ lead with 7:31 to play in the first half. On the following possession Anthony Gaines picked Gophers’ guard Nate Mason’s pocket, and had nothing stopping him from a fast-break slam, except for a flagrant foul by a desperate Mason of course.
Nate Mason was called for the flagrant after yanking Gaines by his jersey in an attempt to stop the open basket on the other end. After Gaines split a pair of free-throws, Vic Law made it a four-point possession with a three-pointer of his own to make it a 29-14 Northwestern lead.
The Wildcats led the Gophers 43-21 at the half, with Dererk Pardon already well on his way to another double-double as he logged eight points and eight rebounds in the opening half. Despite shooting just 2-7 from the floor, Scottie Lindsey was right behind Pardon with seven points, while Vic Law and Bryant McIntosh each added six points.
Minnesota was led by Dupree McBrayer in the first half as the junior guard from Queens, N.Y. scored 8 points in 16 minutes of work. Northwestern’s defense in the first half was relentless, often in full-court press mode as they forced eight turnovers and held Minnesota to a dismal 22 percent clip from the floor.
Minnesota would show some life in the second half when they rattled off a 7-0 run to cut a 28-point Wildcats’ lead down to just 21 points and trailed 52-31 with 15:08 to play in the game. After both sides went quiet for about two minutes, Gavin Skelly nailed a corner three-ball to make it a 55-31 game in favor of the Wildcats, and ended a scoring drought that lasted nearly five minutes.
Mid-way through the second half, things began to get a little chippy as the two sides were both called for technical fouls for some extra contact after the whistle on back-to-back possessions. Dupree McBrayer was whistled for the technical for Minnesota, and Scottie Lindsey was hit with the technical foul for the Wildcats.
After the extra-curricular activity had subsided, Minnesota would rattle off a brief 6-0 run to make it a 57-43 game, but Dererk Pardon would take over down low again, scoring back-to-back baskets to end the Golden Gophers run. Northwestern would again pull away from Minnesota in the latter minutes of the contest, eventually securing a 23-point victory, their second Big Ten win on the season.
Bryant McIntosh stole the show on Wednesday night, moving into 10th place on the Big Ten all-time assists list, passing Denzel Valentine. McIntosh didn’t stop there folks, he logged 16 assists in the game, breaking the Northwestern single-game record and added 11 points to complete the double-double.
Dererk Pardon also notched another double-double as he scored 13 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in 31 minutes of action. The Wildcats shot 50 percent from the floor on the night, and their defense was exceptional as they held Minnesota to just 31 percent from the field. Northwestern moves to 11-7 overall and 2-3 in Big Ten play this season and will be back in action on Sunday afternoon when they visit Indiana.