Wildcats run past Eagles 82-64 in Big Ten/ACC Challenge
BOSTON (AP) — Northwestern coach Chris Collins didn’t know what to expect from his young team in its first true road game.
They passed the first test easily.
“I was really anxious to see how our guys were going to be,” Collins said. “I thought a lot of guys did a lot of big things.”
The Wildcats’ run over a 5:36 stretch turned a one-point deficit into a 35-20 edge. Nance started it with a 3 and Kopp added a trey in his five points.
BC was outscored 23-2 at the start of the second half in its last game, a 20-point loss at Richmond.
“A little bit of the ‘Here we go again type thing,’” Eagles coach Jim Christian said. “We’ve got to fight through that. You can’t keep letting that happen. You can’t keep digging holes. We just keep digging holes.”
During the spree, the Wildcats switched to zone and didn’t come out of it from midway in the first half until after the midpoint of the second.
Northwestern led 37-27 at halftime and pushed its lead to 60-42 on Buie’s fastbreak layup with 11:13 left.
After a timeout by BC, A.J. Turner nailed two free throws, giving the Wildcats their first 20-point lead of the night.
The zone worked.
“Sometimes if you throw some curveballs out there or a different pitch, maybe it can get them out of rhythm,” Collins said. “I felt like it was working a little bit.”
The Eagles didn’t get their deficit below double digits the rest of the way.
Northwestern: The Wildcats have the least experienced team in the conference. When BC was making a slight run, they showed patience and mostly relied on the playmaking of Turner and freshman guard Buie.
Boston College: The Eagles couldn’t get out of the offensive funk that plagued them the previous two games in double-digit losses against Saint Louis and Richmond.
“I think we keep going through these lulls and when you’re not scoring you have to make up for it with extra effort,” Christian said.
Northwestern guard Pat Spencer had a steal and breakaway dunk, but the 6-foot-3 grad transfer, who was a standout four-year lacrosse player at Loyola, fell on his backside after the slam.
Wildcats senior forward Turner played his first two years of collegiate ball at BC before transferring to Northwestern in the summer of 2017. He scored six points with two assists in just under 24 minutes of playing time.
“This is a place he loves. Although he was looking for a different basketball situation, he has fond memories of this place,” Collins said. “He loves this school, a lot of friendships. It doesn’t always go well when you play your old team. I thought he handled that.”
Christian hopes the return to ACC play will spark his team.
“I hope so. I hope you’re right,” he said. “It should. They know what they want to do. We just need a little leadership right now — on the court leadership.”
Northwestern: At Purdue in its Big Ten opener on Sunday afternoon.
Boston College: At Notre Dame in ACC play Saturday afternoon.