Nov. 6, 2013
-- Northwestern weathered a second-half comeback as it downed Lewis University in an exhibition contest at Welsh-Ryan Arena Wednesday, 57-46.
Drew Crawford paced the Wildcats with 15 points, while JerShon Cobb and Nathan Taphorn joined him in double figures with 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Neither team got off to a hot start from the field Wednesday night. Defense reigned supreme as both squads struggled to find the bottom of the bucket through the first 20 minutes of action. The Wildcats converted on just 32 percent (8-of-25) of their attempts in the first half, but their swarming defense held the visiting Flyers to just a shade above 20 percent (6-of-29), while forcing six turnovers.
NU maintained a 28-18 advantage at the break, punctuated by Cobb's coast-to-coast lay-in the fell just as time expired. Cobb led all scorers with nine points in the first half, while Taphorn had six points on a pair of three-pointers, one of which gave Northwestern the lead for good with just under 13 minutes remaining in the first half.
Redshirt senior Nikola Cerina was a beast on the boards for the Wildcats. Cerina corralled eight rebounds in the first half, leading all players.
The Wildcats were able to garner a bit more of an offensive rhythm as the teams opened the second half. Northwestern blasted out of the gate and nearly doubled its halftime lead as it methodically built an 18-point lead with 12:42 left to play when Taphorn calmly sank a pair of free throws that sent him into double figures on the scoring column for the game.
Lewis wouldn't go away so quietly, however. Using a monster 15-2 run, the Flyers cut their deficit to single digits at five points when David Niggins converted an old fashioned three-point play to bring the Flyers to make it 48-43 in favor of the Wildcats with 4:55 left on the clock.
The foes went back and forth until a clutch three-pointer from in front of NU's bench by Crawford put the Wildcats back up by nine, 54-45 with just about a minute and a half to go. The Flyers tried to extend the clock by fouling the Wildcats, but Northwestern responded at the line by going three-of-four down the stretch from the charity stripe to hang on for the victory.
Northwestern will get its 2013-14 regular season underway in primetime Saturday night when the Eastern Illinois Panthers make the trek to Evanston for a 7:30 p.m. tip-off at Welsh-Ryan Arena. The game will be televised live on the Big Ten Network. Tickets are available by calling 888-GO-PURPLE (467-8775).
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