NU, Shurna roll in opener

John Shurna and Kevin Coble lead the Wildcats past Robert Morris, a 2009 Tourney team. Read on for details about the Cats' season-opener, which was an encouraging start to a promising season.

Courtesy NU Sports

EVANSTON, Ill. - Sophomore forward John Shurna posted game highs of 21 points and seven rebounds as the Northwestern men's basketball team defeated Robert Morris (Ill.) 78-49 Wednesday evening at Welsh-Ryan Arena. It was the Wildcats' lone exhibition contest prior to opening the regular season against Northern Illinois Nov. 13.

Kevin Coble chipped in with 15 points and six boards for NU. Lester Ferguson paced the Eagles with 15 points.

Shurna tallied 13 points and grabbed six of his boards during the opening half of play. The Wildcats held a slim 18-17 lead with under eight minutes left before the intermission when Shurna caught fire. He nailed back-to-back 3-pointers and Jeff Ryan added a lay-up as Northwestern extended its lead to nine.

Robert Morris was within six before Shurna knocked down his third trey in as many attempts and Ivan Peljusic threw down at dunk to give NU its largest lead of the half at 11. The 'Cats would eventually take a 35-26 advantage into the break.

The Eagles scored the first four points of the second half to get within five before Northwestern gradually began to pull away. A lay-up by Drew Crawford capped a 12-3 surge over a four-minute span that extended the advantage to 14 at 47-33.

The visitors trailed by 12 with 12 minutes left before the Wildcats put the game out of reach by scoring 16 of the game's next 19 points.

NU held a commanding 51-33 advantage on the boards, including hauling in 18 offensive caroms which led to 19 second-chance points. The Wildcats dominated the play in the post, out-scoring the Eagles 44-16. Sophomore center Luka Mirkovic was a key figure in the post for Northwestern, notching eight points and six boards.

Peljusic and Ryan contributed to the Wildcats' 26 points off the bench by scoring nine and seven points, respectively. Ryan's solid all-around effort also included four rebounds and a game-high four assists.

The hosts also dished out 24 assists while committing only seven turnovers.

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