The Northwestern men's basketball team won its third straight game on Sunday against the Fairleigh Dickenson Knights, 80-53, to move to 3-0 on the season. The Wildcats came out firing on all cylinders after a sluggish performance on Thursday against Mississippi Valley State. They jumped out to a 41-14 halftime lead and never looked back.
What went right
Reggie Hearn, fresh off a 23-point and 6-assist performance on Thursday, continued his stellar play. He knocked down two 3-point shots in the first two minutes to put the ‘Cats up and stayed accurate for the rest of the game, shooting 4-5 from the field and finishing with 14 points in only 19 minutes of action.
The freshman center was also a force to be reckoned with in this game. He defended the paint spectacularly, using his 7-foot frame to grab nine rebounds in only 16 minutes. Olah’s hard work on the boards was especially crucial during Northwestern’s 15-0 scoring run that lasted the final five minutes of the first half and the first two minutes of the second. Olah contributed on offense as well, shooting 5-7 from the field and scoring 10 points.
The Wildcats scored 36 points off the bench, 25 of which came in the second half with the game wrapped up. Freshman forward Kale Abrahamson and senior guard Alex Marcotullio both scored nine points and helped keep the offense steady in the second half. Four of the team’s five starters played less than 20 minutes, giving the team’s best players a rest after having to exert themselves deep into the second half on Thursday.
What went wrong
A negative for the Wildcats going forward will be the injury of redshirt junior forward Nikola Cerina. During the second half, Cerina was taken off of the court limping with an apparent ankle injury. There is no word yet on his status, but he could be missed in the Wildcats frontcourt.
“He looks big and plays big,” Reggie Hearn said. “He had seven rebounds in 10 minuets. That’s unbelievable.”
In addition to his impressive rebounding numbers, Cerina also went 2-3 from the field for 5 points in his Northwestern debut.
Northwestern’s non-conference schedule is far from the strongest in college basketball. Fairleigh Dickinson was indicative of that.
The Knights were incredibly inaccurate on the offensive end. They missed easy layups and were not able to hit short jump shots either. They also only made 25 percent of their free throws. Northwestern made only 69 percent of its free throws, far from ideal but far superior than Fairleigh Dickinson's output. The fun ends soon though: Maryland, Butler and the Big Ten conference season are on the horizon for the 'Cats.
The Wildcats will face off against Delaware State (3-1) on Tuesday night at Welsh-Ryan Arena.