ROSEMONT, Ill.-All five starters scored in double figures as Northwestern posted a workmanlike 75-66 win over feisty St. Peter’s at Allstate Arena.
Bryant McIntosh scored 17 points to lead the Wildcats, who also saw Dererk Pardon (15), Gavin Skelly (14), Scottie Lindsey (12) and Vic Law (10) reach double digits. Northwestern dominated the Peacocks on the glass 34-16 and hit an incredible 23 of 24 free throws.
Numbers like those may suggest an easy win, but this was far from it as St. Peter’s shaved a 15-point lead to as close as 7 in the second half. The Peacocks were led by Nick Griffin’s 19 points and 14 apiece from Cameron Jones and Samuel Idowu.
Here are our three pointers on the win that leaves Northwestern with a 2-0 record with Creighton coming to town on Wednesday:
Turnovers continue to be an issue for Northwestern: The Wildcats turned the ball over 17 times as St. Peter’s finished with 10 steals and 14 points off of turnovers. In the first half, Northwestern had a 17-9 edge in rebounding and shot 50 percent (10 of 20), but nine turnovers meant that they only had a 32-25 lead at the break. Dererk Pardon was the worst culprit with five turnovers, including four in just 13 minutes in the first half. Fellow big man Barret Benson contributed two in just three minutes, while freshman Anthony Gaines had three. Head coach Chris Collins said he’s very concerned about the turnovers in the first two games (the Wildcats had 15 in the season opener). He said he doesn’t think the Wildcats have the “firepower” offensively to overcome “17 to 20 turnovers” in a game.
The Peacocks just wouldn’t go away: Northwestern came out in the second half and blitzed St. Peter’s with three 3-pointers, by Skelly, Law and Pardon, and eventually opened up a 45-30 lead. At that point it looked like the Wildcats would run away with the game, but St. Peter’s just kept coming back. After not shooting a free throw in the first half, the Peacocks got to the line 15 times in the second and kept chipping away at the lead, aided by Northwestern’s turnovers. They cut the lead to 8 points a couple times, and a Davaunhnte Turner layup got them to within 7 with 32.2 seconds left. The game was never really in doubt, but Northwestern failed to show a killer instinct and put away an opponent on the ropes. Collins credited St. Peter’s for forcing the Wildcats to finish the game with starters on the floor and not subs.
Anthony Gaines looks like he belongs: The only true freshman on the roster played 15 minutes against St. Peter’s, finishing with 5 points on 2-for-4 shooting, including 1-for-1 on 3s, and three turnovers. Gaines scored all of his points within a few possessions in the second half, and Collins praised his aggressiveness. The first basket of his career came on an impressive drive, when he shielded a defender with his body and hit a windmill layup. Then, he confidently hit a 3-pointer. He was called for traveling and lost control of the ball on a baseline drive, but overall he looked confident and comfortable on the floor. Physically, he certainly looks the part with big shoulders and a sizable backside, as well as very good leaping ability.