Pat Spencer is proving to be a quick study in his new sport, establishing career highs of 23 points and eight assists to lead Northwestern to a 78-51 win over Bradley in a semifinal in the Fort Myers (Fla.) Tip-Off on Monday night.
The Wildcats (3-2) advance to play Pittsburgh, which defeated Kansas State in the opening semifinal, on Wednesday. The Braves (4-2) will oppose Kansas State in the consolation game.
Spencer, a graduate student and four-time All-American in lacrosse at Loyola-Maryland, made all three of his 3-point attempts and shot 9-for-12 from the field to spark the Wildcats to a victory in the first meeting between the in-state schools since 1985-86.
Ryan Young added 13 points and seven rebounds, and Miller Kopp had 13 points for Northwestern. The Wildcats shot 52.6 percent (30-for-57) from the field, including 10-for-20 from 3-point range.
The Braves endured numerous scoring droughts, shooting 33 percent (16-for-48) from the field and committing 14 turnovers.
Elijah Childs led the Braves with 14 points and seven boards, and Darrell Brown poured in 13.
Northwestern missed five consecutive shots until Boo Buie hit a floater in the lane to increase the lead to 51-31 with just under 14 minutes left. Spencer scored on a driving layup to give the Wildcats a 62-39 edge.
The Braves had ideas of an upset over their in-state counterpart, jumping out to a 6-0 lead in the first two minutes. After a Northwestern timeout, the turning point came when the Wildcats started playing aggressive on-ball defense and hitting the boards. Northwestern scored the next 11 points/
The Wildcats produced a 9-0 surge to take a 32-17 lead following a tip-in by Robbie Beran off his own miss.
The Braves opened the game making three of their first four shots before enduring an icy 3-for-23 spell over the next 18-plus minutes to fall behind 39-21 at halftime. The Braves missed their final 13 shots before the break while Spencer hit two straight floaters to end the half.
—Field Level Media