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Northwestern breezes by Fairleigh Dickinson

The SportsXchange

EVANSTON, Ill. -- Scouting information on Fairleigh Dickinson was limited, but it didn't seem to matter Sunday as Northwestern breezed to an 80-53 victory over the visiting Knights.

"This one was a little harder because there was only one game (to scout) and they were missing a bunch of players from their first game," Wildcats coach Bill Carmody said. "But what we worked on was pretty much what they do."

Reggie Hearn led the Wildcats (3-0) with 14 points while Alex Olah added 10 points and nine rebounds in a South Padre Island Invitational opener at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

Defensive play and rebounding were among the highlights as the Wildcats outrebounded the Knights 50-34 and forced 10 turnovers.

"Our defense is better and our rebounding is better," Hearn said. "I think that should continue to be good for us moving forward."

Hearn played just 19 minutes but hit a pair of 3-pointers, was 4-for-5 from the field and pulled down four rebounds.

"I gave him a hard time the other night," Carmody said. "(But) he came to play on both ends of the court, defensively and he got us off offensively. It was very good to see."

Hearn and Olah saw limited action after halftime while 11 other Northwestern players saw plenty of minutes.

The Wildcats held the Knights to just 14 first-half points, tying the 14 points they allowed in the Nov. 13 season opener against Texas Southern. That matched the fewest points allowed by the Wildcats since 2008, when they allowed 14 to UC Riverside.

Northwestern led 41-14 at halftime and opened a 36-point lead at 60-24 on Mike Turner's layup with 11:53 remaining in the second half.

Mathias Seilund led Fairleigh Dickinson (0-2) with a game-high 16 points, including 14 in the second half. Melquan Bolding added 12, while Lonnie Robinson had a game-high 11 rebounds.

For the Knights, it was a rude awakening in their first visit to Northwestern.

"When you score 14 points in the first half, it doesn't matter what city you're in," said Fairleigh Dickinson coach Greg Vetrone. "Part of it is that I've got some guys who aren't here, some guys who are suspended. So it was difficult playing a freshman point guard in (Sekou Harris) and it was just one of those halves.

"(But) we scored 39 in the second half so we made progress."

Northwestern led 22-9 after 10 minutes thanks, in part, to 11 points from Hearn. The Wildcats were 8 of 16 from the field (50 percent) -- including a pair of Hearn 3-pointers -- during that stretch, while the Knights managed just 4 of 14 (28.6 percent) from the field.

Northwestern outscored Fairleigh Dickinson 14-3 in the final 6:21 to open the 27-point halftime lead.

Kale Abrahamson and Alex Marcotullio each added nine points apiece for Northwestern.

Junior forward Nikola Cerina left the game with a possible ankle injury after crashing to the court with less than six minutes to play. His status was not immediately known.

NOTES: Both teams resume South Padre Invitational action on Tuesday. The Wildcats are home against Delaware State, and the Knights play at Illinois State. They'll each play twice in Texas starting Friday ... While Sunday's meeting was Northwestern's first against Fairleigh Dickinson, the Wildcats are 10-0 against current members of the Northeast Conference ... The Knights had been idle since they dropped a 117-75 decision at Xavier in their Nov. 9 season opener and are coming off a 3-26 season in 2011-2012 ... Hearn had a career-best 23 points in last Thursday's 81-68 victory over Mississippi Valley State ... Northwestern has won 18 straight in November in a streak going back to 2009.
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