Saturday, December 16, 2017

Northwestern 62, DePaul 60: Lindsey's clutch shooting pushes the Wildcats past the Blue Demons

Photo Credit: Mary Lagenfeld- USA TODAY Sports

CHICAGO— In a Jekyll and Hyde non-conference slate for the Northwestern Wildcats (8-4), Saturday’s rivalry game with the DePaul Blue Demons (6-5) ended on a high note thanks to Scottie Lindsey’s clutch shooting down the stretch in a 62-60 win at Wintrust Arena.

Lindsey’s 25 points was highlighted by a three-point make of the game from the top of the key with 54.3 seconds left in regulation to put Northwestern up 62-57, which silenced the DePaul crowd.

“All game, they were blocking the ball screens and took away our play and I just looked up at the clock and knew I had to get a shot up with six seconds left on the shot clock. I didn’t’ feel like [Tre’Darius McCallum] was really pressuring me and thought it was a good opportunity,” Lindsey said.

Max Strus finished with a career-high 33 points for DePaul and drained three critical free throws with 35 seconds left after being fouled on an attempt by Anthony Gaines, which kept Northwestern on edge at 62-60. Despite the scoring outburst, Strus wanted the win more than a individual showing.

“I wanted to win the game and the points are secondary for me,” Strus said.

The Blue Demons produced their biggest stop of the game as Bryant McIntosh could not get a clean look, which resulted in a shot clock violation, but failed to take advantage with 5.3 seconds left as Eli Cain missed a driving floater as time expired. Northwestern held Cain to 1-of-10 from the field and a season-low two points and played in foul trouble for most of the game.

The Wildcats played the majority of the game without Vic Law due to an upper body injury, which coach Chris Collins later verified as a head injury as he fell on the edge of the media table while going after a rebound also came into the game with a stomach issue.

Northwestern’s turnover woes played a big part in trailing for large portions of the game with 13 in the first half, but managed to cut back to five in the second half and got into a better rhythm as a result.

“Having turnovers is not who we are,” Collins said. “We are not a team that can withstand high turnover games. Part of it was DePaul’s defense. They have length, quickness and size at the basket. I thought their coaches were really good and did a great job with McIntosh on the pick and rolls. Most of our mistakes were self-inflicted and did a better job in the second half and is something we had to do.”

DePaul’s poor effort from the free-throw line played a pivotal role in the loss going 9-of-24, but coach Dave Leitao cited other factors as the downfall.

“As much as our free-throw shooting was bad, if we had shot 75 percent, it would have not guaranteed us a win,” Leitao said. “You can look at film and say others could have done better in other departments, but those things don’t tell the whole story.”

Game Recap:

Both teams traded baskets as the Wildcats and Blue Demons led by no more than three points in the first 9:55 of the game.

Things began to turn in DePaul’s favor as Gavin Skelly and Lindsey sat with two fouls each, which helped spawn a 8-0 run over 4:57, highlighted by a layup and jumper from McCallum. The Blue Demons churned some hustle plays on defense from Brandon Cyrus, which led to successful trips on the other end during the stretch and a 21-16 lead halfway through the first half.

Strus drained back-to-back threes to give DePaul its largest lead of the game at 30-21, before Law countered with a pair of triples.

Both teams looked limp on offense to close the first half as the Blue Demons missed their last five shots, while the Wildcats failed to convert for their final four. DePaul found itself up 33-28 after 20 minutes despite the flaws and found itself in a centered state of mind.

Things turned south early in the second half for the Wildcats as Law fell on to the edge of the media table while going after a rebound as the Blue Demons took advantage on a 5-on-4 with a Strus three-pointer. Strus continued his hot shooting with another triple on the next possession to put DePaul up 39-31.

The Wildcats found strength from within and responded with an 8-0 run to retake the lead at 44-43 at the 12:04 mark and controlled the tempo for the remainder of the game.

Looking Ahead:

The Wildcats return to action on Dec. 19 as they host the Lewis Flyers at Allstate Arena for a 7 p.m. tip-off, while the Blue Demons play the Miami RedHawks at Wintrust Arena on Dec. 21 for a 8 p.m. start.