"I'm just trying to help the team," said Shurna. I'm just taking it one game at a time, and trying to win basketball games."
The Wildcats also received a strong contribution from Juice Thompson, who scored 23 points, and Luka Mirkovic, who finished with a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds. By the end of the game, Shurna, Thompson, and Mirkovic combined for 62 of Northwestern's 78 points.
The first half featured a lot of offense, and not much defense. Both teams combined for 32 points, in the game's first five minutes. Both teams finished the first half shooting above 54% from the field, which called for halftime adjustments for each team. Wildcat head coach Bill Carmody got his defense under control, which showed in the rest of the game.
"I think our defense tightened up, with some combination of them missing some shots," Carmody said after the win. "That's basically what we talked about at halftime. You find a combination, you got to figure out how it's going to work, and that was the difference."
The halftime adjustments worked beautifully. Northwestern held American to just 28 points and a 39.3% field goal percentage in the second half. Meanwhile, Shurna continued his hot streak with 11 second half points, before being taken out to a standing ovation.
The Wildcats will travel to New York City, to play in the annual Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden. The ‘Cats first play St. Francis (NY) on Monday night, and the will play either St. John's or Davidson on Tuesday. The chance to play in Madison Square Garden will be a special moment for the Wildcats.
"It's awesome," said senior center Luka Mirkovic. "We all watch NBA, and any time somebody brings up Madison Square Garden, your eyes light up."