Wildcats Hold Off Stony Brook

After falling behind to Stony Brook in the opening minutes, Northwestern was able to charge back and take the lead, then hold on in the final minutes. The Wildcats moved to 5-0 with a 63-58 win over the Seawolves at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

Call it a post-Thanksgiving turkey hangover, perhaps. A slow Northwestern start set the tone for a rough day, but the Wildcats held on to beat Stony Brook, 63-58.

Junior forward Drew Crawford was expecting a battle coming into the game, and he was right. The Seawolves opened up the game with an 8-0 lead, and refused to back down the rest of the game.

"They're a tough team," said Crawford. "They played Indiana tough. We knew it would be a battle coming in. We knew it would be a fight and it was a close finish."

After falling behind in, the Wildcats caught fire in the form of a 20-5 run, and looked charged to pull away. However, Stony Brook battled back, and cut NU's lead to just two-points at halftime.

Northwestern never trailed in the second half, and even opened up a 10-point lead with over six minutes remaining—its largest lead of the game. But again, the Seawolves wouldn't quit.

Stony Brook charged back on an 11-2 run spanning four minutes and 15 second, and suddenly, the Wildcats' held a slim three-point margin.

"They just wouldn't go away," said NU head coach Bill Carmody. "We got off to a bad start, we were fighting back, and when we were ahead, it didn't seem like we were into clear. It came down to the last minutes."

After a media timeout, Northwestern killed off 30 seconds, before sophomore guard Jershon Cobb hit a three-pointer, which would serve as the dagger.

"That was a big shot," said Crawford. "It kind of sealed it for us."

Friday's game marked the fourth consecutive down-to-the-wire finish for the Wildcats, who have come out in the win category each time.

Was there a letdown for Northwestern, after a hot run in the Charleston Classic? Not according to Drew Crawford, who admits Stony Brook was just tough.

"We were confident in ourselves, but you can't downplay who you're playing," said Crawford. "You got to go out there and win the game."

Senior forward John Shurna led all scorers with 20 points, while David Sobolewski added 16. As a team, Northwestern shot 43.8 percent from the field, but the team was hampered by poor interior play.

The Wildcats' two centers, Luka Mirkovic and Davide Curletti, each were held scoreless. In addition, the two seniors each had just three rebounds.

Mirkovic's struggles are especially disappointing because he started each of Northwestern's 34 games in 2010, and faced a Stony Brook center that stood at just 6-foot-8. Going forward, the Wildcats are hoping for more from Mirkovic.

"Everybody goes through rough patches," said Crawford of Mirkovic. "He has to work hard and stick with it, and we know he's going to."

The Wildcats now turn their attention to Georgia Tech, who they play in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge on Tuesday evening. Last season, NU bested the Yellow Jackets by 20 points at Welsh-Ryan Arena. This time, the two teams will square off at Phillips Arena in Atlanta.

"They're playing a lot better," said Carmody of Georgia Tech. "You could see, they came off their first game and got better and better. They're well coached, as this team was today. We're playing them on their home court. It will be tough."

EXTRA POINTS:

• Junior guard Alex Marcotullio did not play, due to a toe injury. Bill Carmody said Marcotullio was "semi-available" to play on Friday.

• Former walk-on guard Reggie Hearn has emerged as a strong scorer for the Wildcats. Carmody said that Hearn was counted on as a starter "when everybody got hurt" during preseason practices. Hearn finished with eight points on 3-6 from the field, while hitting two key three-pointers.

• There's another new addition to the roster. Omar Jimenez, a freshman walk-on guard, was added to the Northwestern roster. He is a 6-foot-1, 185-pound guard from Kennesaw, Georgia.


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