Senior forward Vic Law poured in a game-high 26 points, and senior center Dererk Pardon racked up 13 points and 18 rebounds to guide Northwestern to a 63-51 victory over American on Monday night at Evanston, Ill.
Similar to their season-opening win over New Orleans on Thursday, the Wildcats (2-0) struggled from the field most of the night before pulling away late. Graduate transfer guard Ryan Taylor, who drilled a career-high six 3-pointers in the opener, went 1-of-6 from the arc and finished with 10 points.
Northwestern finished at 36.2 percent from the field while American canned just 34.0 percent.
Junior big man Mark Gasperini delivered 17 points to pace the Eagles (1-1), who missed 12 of their last 13 shots. Junior guard Sa’eed Nelson, the Patriot League’s preseason player of the year, shot just 3-of-14 from the field and committed seven turnovers. He finished with 10 points, nine rebounds and five assists.
Despite Nelson’s struggles, American clung closely to Northwestern from the jump and held several small leads in the first half. Northwestern grabbed a 38-31 lead at the break by scoring the final seven points of the half. Taylor reeled off five in a row before Law capped off his 16-point half with a jumper.
American forged the first tie of the second half, 45-45, on Gasperini’s layup with 11:01 to play. The Eagles came up empty on three possessions, and Pardon threw down a dunk with 8:40 left to regain the lead and momentum for the Wildcats. Law followed his own miss with a jumper, and junior swingman A.J. Turner canned a 3-pointer as Northwestern scored eight in a row to take control.
Gasperini finally halted American’s five-minute, 34-second scoring drought with a pair of free throws with 5:27 to play, but Law answered with a three-point play and Pardon flew in to slam a missed Law 3-pointer to keep the Eagles at bay.
—Field Level Media