NU tramples Chicago State

Northwestern sent its seniors out in style, blasting Chicago State 72-49 on Senior Night. Seniors Jeremy Nash and Matt Steger were honored before the game, but it was freshman Alex Marcotullio who stole the show, hitting five three-pointers. As a team, NU hit 13 threes en route to its 19th win -- the most in school history.

EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern opened the second half of play against Chicago State with a barrage of 3-pointers while holding CSU to an 0-for-12 start to the half on its way to a 72-49 victory Wednesday on Senior Night in Welsh-Ryan Arena. NU dialed up 13 treys, including five by freshman Alex Marcotullio, en route to its first 19-win season in school history.

Before the start of the game, Northwestern honored the two members of its 2010 senior class, Jeremy Nash and Matt Steger. With the win over the Cougars, the senior tandem tied the 2005 NU class as the winningest senior class in school history having compiled 57 victories over their four years.

Nash finished the game with seven points and a game-high four steals, upping his career total to 122. John Shurna finished as the game's high-scorer with 16 points and landed one rebound shy of a double-double with nine.

The Wildcats made themselves at home behind the 3-point arc in the early going with Michael Thompson sinking his second trey at the 14:25 mark to put NU ahead 10-5. Two possessions later, Thompson found Shurna on a fastbreak for a triple from the left wing to give the 'Cats a 13-5 edge.

After NU connected on another three, this time courtesy of Marcotullio, Chicago State managed to creep within two with its ability to get to the rim, scoring 12 of its first 17 points inside the paint.

With four minutes to go in the half, Thompson put the Wildcats up by four, 25-21, with a one-handed runner in the lane as the shot clock expired. But the Cougars refused to go away, keeping it a three-point game into the final two minutes of the first stanza. Northwestern forced turnovers on the next two CSU possessions, however, leading to 3-pointers by Marcotullio and Nash as the Wildcats built a 37-27 halftime advantage.

NU coaxed Chicago State into 12 total turnovers for the half and turned them into 21 total points on the offensive end.

With the always-active Nash swarming the ball-handler, the 'Cats' 1-3-1 zone continued to give the Cougars fits in the second half as CSU was limited to just three points--all on free throws--through eight minutes of action. Meanwhile, a fastbreak finger-roll by Nash followed by a Shurna trey started an NU run that was capped off with a pair of Marcotullio 3-pointers as the Wildcats opened a commanding 52-30 advantage with 12:31 remaining.

Chicago State never threatened the rest of the way, done in by a 29-percent shooting clip on the evening. Northwestern was able to empty its bench down the stretch and finished the game shooting just a shade under 50 percent (49.1).

Northwestern rounds out its Big Ten and regular season schedule with a trip to Indiana on Saturday. Tip time is slated for 11 a.m. CT with the Big Ten Network providing the live telecast.


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