"Drew was in foul trouble, so he didn't play," Carmody explained. "Maybe he played ten minutes in the first half. Swop, there was no scoring there. It puts a lot of pressure on us. In the second half, we had a hard time scoring."
The rest of Northwestern's cast did their best to compensate. Dave Sobolewski finished with 21 points despite fouling out with five minutes remaining in the game. Reggie Hearn had 13 points, six rebounds and several bruises, diving to the floor countless times.
In an extremely physical game, the Wildcats never backed down, but heart wasn't enough. All-around poor shooting, 32.7% from the field and 29.2% from three, kept them from seriously catching up to the Bulldogs. 22 made free throws were the only thing keeping the scoreline respectable.
Crawford finished 1-8 from the field with only six points to his name. Swopshire failed to even make a basket, going 0-6 with a meager three free throws. From two seniors who the Wildcats expected to score in double digits regularly, it was another frustrating effort. Still, Carmody was defensive of his players—particularly Swopshire, who turned out his third poor shooting night in his last four games.
"The staff has to figure out how we're going to get our two senior guys into the offense," he said. "[Swopshire] is hitting the boards great, but we're trying to get him from a role player at Louisville to a guy who can give us 10-12 points a night. He has to figure out where his shots are going to come from, and we have to help him with that."
Northwestern players also stood behind their teammates, hoping to learn how to cover for them better in the future. Though Crawford and Swopshire's erratic performances were nothing new based on the past month, Sobolewski cited a need for everyone else to adapt.
"Drew will be okay," he said. "Obviously it's great for us when he's playing well, but even with a down night we were a couple plays away from winning the game. He's a huge part of our team, but we need to find a way to win when he's not playing his best."
According to the players poor shot selection isn't the problem. Crawford and Swopshire know what's expected of them, and are two of Northwestern's hardest workers. And with over a week until their matchup with Texas State, they've still got time to work out the kinks.
But Carmody nailed it—their issues keep reoccurring. Going into Northwestern's finals week, the Wildcats face a complex problem. Make no mistake: the solution rests with Crawford and Swopshire.
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