EVANSTON, Ill. -- Forward Drew Crawford scored a season-high 26 points as Northwestern returned from an eight-day break to beat Mississippi Valley State 86-64 in a non-conference game Monday at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
The Wildcats (6-5) took control midway through the opening half and maintained a double-digit lead most of the rest of the way. However, they struggled to put away the pesky Delta Devils (3-7) until a late 8-2 run opened an 80-60 lead with 3:36 to play.
Forward James Currington had 14 points and 13 rebounds for Mississippi State, which saw its two-game winning streak end. Guard Cameron Dobbs had 12 points for the Delta Devils, and guard DeAngelo Priar added 10.
Northwestern center Alex Olah and guard Trey Demps each scored 18 points, and forward Sanjay Lumpkin collected 13 points and 10 rebounds. Crawford added 10 boards as the Wildcats won their second straight and finished with their second-best shooting night of the season.
Northwestern made 29 of 54 attempts from the field (53.7 percent).
Crawford moved into seventh on Northwestern's all-time scoring list with 1,576 career points, passing with Kevin Rankin, who had 1,575 points from 1991-94.
Northwestern was without junior guard JerShon Cobb, listed as day-to-day after spraining an ankle in practice last Thursday.
After four early lead changes, a Crawford layup put Northwestern ahead for good at 10-8 with 14:53 to play in the first half. The Wildcats extended the advantage to 28-18 as forward Nathan Taphorn's 3-pointer capped a 10-2 run.
Northwestern's lead hit 16 with 3:18 left in the half on Olah's jumper in the paint.
The teams traded 3-pointers in the final five seconds -- including a successful buzzer-beater from two steps behind the center stripe by Priar as time expired.
The Wildcats, who led 44-34 at halftime, had their best first half of shooting since Nov. 20 against Illinois-Chicago. Northwestern shot 18-for-32 (56.3 percent) before the break Monday.
Northwestern and Mississippi Valley State also met in non-conference play in 2012, an 81-68 Wildcats victory at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
Northwestern hosts Brown on Sunday and closes 2013 and the non-conference season on Dec. 27 at home against DePaul.
NOTES: Northwestern returned to action after a eight-day break for final exams. The Wildcats beat Western Michigan 51-35 victory in their last outing on Dec. 7. ... Northwestern F Drew Crawford entered the game averaging 14.7 points and 7.3 rebounds, one of just three players ranking in the Big Ten's top 15 in scoring and rebounding. ... The Delta Devils played for just the second time in 17 days. They will be idle for another nine days until they play road games Dec. 27 and Dec. 28 against Washington and Washington State, respectively. ... Mississippi Valley State redshirt freshman G Jordan Washington started his fourth consecutive game. He scored a career-high 19 points in a 89-81 victory over NAIA Division I Tougaloo College on Dec. 7.