Nov. 25, 2013
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Alex Olah posted career highs of 18 points and five blocked shots as Northwestern rode the strength of a strong second-half shooting performance to a 72-59 win over Gardner-Webb at Welsh-Ryan Arena Monday night.
The Wildcats fought off a slow start to shoot 66.7 percent from the field (18-27) over the final 20 minutes of play. Drew Crawford contributed 15 points and eight rebounds, JerShon Cobb had 14 points and eight boards and Dave Sobolewski chipped in with 10 points and six assists.
NU got good looks from the field early on but struggled to connect as the visitors surged out to a 9-4 lead five minutes into the contest. Crawford, the Wildcats' leading scorer, was forced to the bench just 2:24 into the matchup as he picked up two quick fouls.
However, NU was able to establish Olah in the post as he scored six points in the opening seven minutes of play and the 'Cats began to get things going. The score was knotted 11-11 when Nathan Taphorn drilled Northwestern's first 3-pointer of the contest.
Crawford would re-enter the game and made two from the free throw line and followed it with a tip-in, making it a 14-3 run and giving the Wildcats an 18-12 advantage. The Runnin' Bulldogs were fortunate to trail by just six as they connected on just four of their first 18 field goal attempts.
Gardner-Webb eventually heated up and connected on three straight shots during an 11-2 run that made it 23-20 in the visitors' favor. The 'Cats would eventually take a 28-25 lead at the break following Tre Demps 3-pointer from the corner with under 10 seconds left in the stanza.
Northwestern started the second half quickly, scoring six of the first eight points to increase its lead to 34-27 as the Runnin' Bulldogs burned a timeout just over two minutes into the period.
Olah continued to use his size to his advantage against the smaller GMU lineup as a transition dunk gave him 14 points with 15:15 still remaining. A 3-pointer by Sanjay Lumpkin made it a 15-6 run by the Wildcats to start the half as they opened up a 43-31 advantage.
The lead would eventually grow to 15 on a pair of occasions before the Runnin' Bulldogs battled back. A 12-3 run cut Northwestern's lead to six, 55-49, with just over eight minutes left.
Jumpers by Cobb and Crawford pushed the lead back up to 10. Gardner-Webb was unable to get closer than seven the rest of the way as the Wildcats held on for the victory.
The solid second-half effort allowed NU to finish at 50 percent shooting (27-54) in the contest while limiting GWU to 35.1 percent (20-57).
Northwestern returns to action Thursday night as it takes on Missouri at 9:30 p.m. in a Thanksgiving nightcap at the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational. The contest is being televised by ESPNU.
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