No. 20 Northwestern outlasts St. Peter’s
ROSEMONT, Ill. — After defeating Loyola (Md.) 79-75 in its season-opener Friday, Northwestern guard Bryant McIntosh put the onus on himself to improve what he described as a “lifeless” team effort.
McIntosh came to life Monday, scoring 17 points and grabbing seven rebounds to help No. 20 Northwestern defeat St. Peter’s 75-66 in the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament.
“It all starts with us, and coach (Chris) Collins,” McIntosh said of the difference in energy levels. “Obviously, he’s very passionate, so having him being able to give us some juice as well can always be beneficial.
“Our preparation was much sharper. We were ready to play and I thought we showed it right away.”
Dererk Pardon added 15 points and Gavin Skelly had 14 points and six rebounds as all five Northwestern starters reached double-digit scoring. Vic Law finished with 10 points and seven rebounds.
“I told my team ‘I’m going to be better today than I was last game,’” said Skelly, who had just three points against Loyola. “I came out a little bit more aggressive offensively. I was calling for the ball and I was hitting more shots.”
Northwestern (2-0) jumped out to an early lead after an 8-0 run that included back-to-back dunks by Skelly and a 3-pointer by Scottie Lindsey, which prompted St. Mary’s coach John Dunne to call a timeout. Lindsey finished with 12 points and a team-high six assists.
The Peacocks (0-2) responded after the timeout, using a 14-4 run to take a 17-15 lead with 8:24 remaining in the first half.
“I was proud of our guys,” St. Peter’s coach John Dunne said. “We have a good group of guys that can make shots. We didn’t show that in the first game that we played. I thought we settled down after the first seven minutes or so of the game and we made our open looks.”
Nick Griffin had a game-high 19 points, going 3 of 5 from 3-point range, and Cameron Jones and Samuel Idowu each added 14 points for the Peacocks.
Despite nine first-half turnovers, Northwestern answered with a 17-8 run to close the half and never trailed again, building a 32-25 lead by halftime.
“They’re one of the nation’s leaders in slowest tempo, or however you want to term that analytically,” Collins said of St. Peter’s. “They make you play a lot of defense. They run their stuff and make you play deep into the clock. It’s one of those games where you’ve got to just grind out the game.”
The Wildcats were 8 of 10 to start the second half, including four 3-pointers, and steadily pulled away, leading by as many as 17 points. McIntosh had 10 points in the second half and was 6 of 6 from the free-throw line.
St. Peter’s relied heavily on the 3-point shot to stay in the game, hitting 10 of 26 from long range, but struggled to match Northwestern’s physical toughness in the post.
The Wildcats won the rebounding battle 34-6 and outscored St. Peter’s 28-18 in the paint.
“We knew that it was going to be a challenge to keep them off the glass,” Dunne said. “We knew we were going to have to be low turnover and shoot it well to stay in the game. We were kind of just hoping for the best when it comes to fighting in the paint.”
NOTES: Northwestern coach Chris Collins (1998-2000) and St. Peter’s coach John Dunne (2001-06) are both former Seton Hall assistant coaches. ... Northwestern is now 2-0 against St. Peter’s. The Wildcats won the first meeting 83-56 on Dec. 13, 2000. ... Northwestern is the only Power-5 team on St. Peter’s schedule. ... Both teams will play two games in Uncasville, Conn., this weekend as part of the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament.