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Northwestern pulls away in second half, tops Gardner-Webb 72-59

Drew Crawford Mike Byron

Drew Crawford, Mike Byron

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Updated: December 27, 2013 6:23AM

Since taking over as Northwestern’s coach in March, Chris Collins has had one point of emphasis when it comes to his team’s offense: Get to the basket.

It seemed the Wildcats
ignored that in the first half Monday against Gardner-Webb. But Collins re-empha-
sized it at halftime, and NU took it to heart.

The Wildcats shot 66.7 percent in the second half
after shooting 33.3 percent in the first and pulled away to a 72-59 victory.

‘‘In the first half, I thought we were playing well, but we just couldn’t throw it in the ocean,’’ Collins said.

‘‘We always talk about taking the ball to the basket. It’s something we’re trying to do more of. You’re a little bit a product of who you are, though, at times. We only have a few guys that can do that consistently. So when you are one of those guys, you have to do that.’’

On one possession early in the first half, NU took three contested three-point shots. Sanjay Lumpkin, Dave Sobo-
lewski and JerShon Cobb all settled for quick outside shots instead of taking the ball to the basket.

It seemed as though NU thought it was in a three-point shooting contest. The Wildcats took 11 three-pointers in the first half and only five in the second.

What kept NU in the game in the first half was the assertiveness of center Alex Olah. He was the Wildcats’ only presence in the paint in the first half.

Often the ‘‘lost boy’’ on the team, the 7-foot Olah called for the ball from the start. Collins said Olah is among the players who can get to the basket, though he does it via the post.

Olah finished with a career-high 18 points, six rebounds and five blocks.

‘‘The coaches were on me to be more aggressive in the post,’’ Olah said. ‘‘I have to be a presence in the post. So every time I get the ball in there, I have to make a move and try to score.’’

NOTE: NU’s Sanjay Lumpkin was ejected after
being called for a Class 2 flagrant foul for throwing an elbow with 2:47 left in the game. Because the foul wasn’t ruled to have taken place during the course of a fight, Lumpkin won’t be suspended for the next game.


Twitter: @SethGruen

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