Northwestern 92, St. Francis, NY 61
NEW YORK (AP)—It took Northwestern a few minutes to get used to Madison Square Garden. Once the Wildcats did, it meant another strong offensive showing and a berth in the Holiday Festival championship game.
John Shurna scored 26 points and Drew Crawford had 25 to lead Northwestern to a 92-61 victory over St. Francis, N.Y., on Monday night.
“They came right at us in the beginning of the game and we told our guys they’re a very aggressive team, New York guys,” Northwestern coach Bill Carmody said. “It looked like we had the Garden jitters the first few minutes. Then we settled down and played pretty decent on offense and getting the shots we wanted on offense.”
In the first half that meant taking and making 3-pointers. In the second half it was getting the ball inside for layups and drives.
Michael Thompson had 14 points and JerShon Cobb added 11 for the Wildcats (8-0), one of nine Division I teams that entered Monday undefeated.
“We were shooting the ball pretty well,” Carmody said. “Crawford kept us in the game in the first half after that it was a team effort. … Our guys were moving the ball around.”
Travis Nichols had 19 points for the Terriers (6-4), who had a five-game winning streak snapped.
The Wildcats took a big lead in the first half by doing what they do best— hitting 3-pointers. They were 8 of 14 from long range and took a 45-31 halftime lead.
In the second half, Northwestern went inside to score, getting 28 points in the paint after having only 12 there in the first half.
The Wildcats used a 12-3 run—with three players each hitting a 3—to take a 41-22 lead with 2:19 left in the first half. Northwestern came into the game shooting 50.7 percent from the field, which was fifth in the country, and 42.1 from 3-point range, 13th in Division I.
The Wildcats shot exactly 50.7 percent for the game (34 for 67) and finished at 45.5 percent on 3s (10 of 22).
Shurna, who came into the game shooting 64.3 percent from the field—sixth in the country—was 9 for 15, including 3 of 5 on 3s. He came in shooting 62.2 from 3-point range, third in the nation.
Northwestern came into the game averaging 80 points per game and St. Francis came in allowing just 61.7 per game.
“Northwestern, obviously, is a good team,” first-year St. Francis coach Glenn Braica said. “I thought we had a lot of trouble with their 1-3-1 zone. I thought our guys hung in there early and then I thought they let our offense and some of the turnovers affect our defense.”
The Wildcats turned it on in the second half by scoring inside and there was little the Terriers could do about it. St. Francis got within 49-40 when the Wildcats went on a 10-0 run with all the points coming on layups and drives. They turned it into a rout with a 13-0 run in which Shurna had all but two of the points. His rebound basket with 4:09 left gave Northwestern an 80-54 lead.
“I think the difference of the game was those runs we went on,” Thompson said. “They were huge and that’s basically because of our defense. We played solid defense and got rebounds. We were able to get out and get some easy hoops in transition.”
The Wildcats’ biggest lead was 92-59.