Fresh off a game in which it set Big Ten records for 3-pointers made and attempted, the 'Cats continued to light it up from beyond the arc against North Florida. Northwestern connected on nine of their 12 3-point attempts in the first half (75 percent) and finished an even 50 percent (14-of-28) on the night.After two early baskets by Mirkovic, Northwestern turned to its starting guards to supply the offense as Drew Crawford and Michael Thompson combined to score the next six baskets for the Wildcats. Included in that stretch was a pretty backdoor layup by Thompson off a feed by Alex Marcotullio and a trio of Thompson treys that helped NU take a 26-17 lead and force an Osprey timeout.
North Florida did not go away, however, closing to within one point at 30-29 on the strength of 3-pointers on consecutive possessions by reserve guard Eni Cuka. But with NU leading 34-29, the 'Cats got a big three by Marcotullio at the top of the circle to restore an eight-point Wildcat advantage.Two more long-range bombs by Mirkovic and Marcotullio helped NU extend its lead to 12, 45-33, at the intermission. In addition to his eight first-half points, Mirkovic also dished out six assists in the opening 20 minutes.
The 'Cats looked sharp to start the second half, going on a 12-2 run over the first 2:30 out of the locker room. Thompson and Mirkovic both hit 3-pointers, while Shurna showed his strength by banking in a one-handed layup with his left arm held behind his back by a UNF defender. Shurna converted the free throw to finish the three-point play and lift NU's lead to 54-35.NU continued to hold the Ospreys at an arms length over the next 10 minutes of the game, ratcheting up the defense to force 21 total turnovers on the night. Two of those came on consecutive UNF possessions near the 11-minute mark as senior Jeremy Nash finished fast-break layups on both occasions to give the 'Cats their biggest lead of the night at 67-40.
North Florida, which was limited to seven field goals in the second half, was led on offense by Jerron Granberry's 16 points.Northwestern plays the third leg of its four-game homestand Saturday when it welcomes Stanford to Welsh-Ryan Arena. Tip time is scheduled for 1 p.m.