After Thursday’s loss to Michigan, Bill Carmody promised his team would play slower. On Sunday the Wildcats did just that.
It was not enough to hold off ninth-ranked Minnesota, whose physical play and superior scoring ability overpowered undermanned Northwestern. Despite the return of the injured Reggie Hearn, the Wildcats dropped to 0-2 in Big Ten play, falling 69-51 to the tough Golden Gophers.
Northwestern employed its slow-down strategy in the first half, trailing the Gophers 17-14 at the break and keeping the game tight throughout. The Wildcats gave a solid defensive effort, throwing the normally potent Minnesota offense a curveball while keeping the game’s tempo under control. For all intents and purposes, Northwestern had its opponent where it wanted.
But in the second half, the Gophers picked up the pace. Northwestern struggled to score out of the gate, and saw the game slip away. Minnesota guard Austin Hollins poured in five consecutive threes to put the Wildcats away for good, and he finished with 19 points. Minnesota outrebounded Northwestern 45-20, paced by forward Trevor Mbakwe’s 11 boards.
Reggie Hearn led Northwestern with 11 points, and Dave Sobolewski chipped in 10 points and five assists. Tre Demps got hot toward the end of the second half and also added 10 points.
Northwestern returns to action at Penn State on Thursday.