On Tuesday Evening, Northwestern tipped off vs Notre Dame for the Championship of the Legends Classic in New York City. After a dominant performance and a double-digit win Monday night against Texas, Northwestern came in as the underdog against Notre Dame. Although the Wildcats kept it close and even had a lead in the final minutes, they ended up losing 70-66.
Here’s what we learned:
What We Learned:
1. Northwestern needs to work on their close- game scenarios
The Wildcats had a chance to win. They were up 66-65 with 39 seconds left thanks to a jumper by Bryant McIntosh. Then a turnover and a foul by Nathan Taphorn cost the Wildcats to go down 68-66. McIntosh missed a jumper in the paint that would have tied the game. Then a foul by freshman Isiah Brown with 3 seconds left cause the Wildcats to go down 70-66. Nate Taphorn turned the ball over with 3 seconds left in-bounding the ball and that was the game.
Sure the missed jumper by Bryant McIntosh affected the game, but the turnovers, ball handling and fouls at the end of the game cost the Wildcats the game.
2. Bryant McIntosh needs to become a more consistent threat on the floor
Monday night, Bryant McIntosh dropped 20 points and 5 assists against Texas when Vic Law was in foul trouble. With Law on the court, he went 3-18 in the paint, 1-3 from three, and had 4 assists and turnovers. This is similar to McIntosh last year- in big games where he had safety blankets like Alex Olah on the floor, he often had a poor night of shooting. But when he knew it had to come from him, like the Wisconsin game, he dominated. He needs to be consistent regardless of who is on the floor with him. The Wildcats need his shooting night in and night out.
3. Northwestern showed they can hang tight with NCAA Tournament teams
Although they fell short on Tuesday, Northwestern showed they can hang tight with NCAA Tournament teams. The Wildcats are a year away from the NCAA Tournament most likely, but they’ve showed signs of what they’re working towards. Last year, they would have lost the faith after losing a game. This year, after the close loss to Butler, they came back to beat Texas by double digits. Now, after losing to Notre Dame, the Cats will have a chance to get another resume win at home on Monday against Wake Forest.
Northwestern did a lot of things right in this game. With Aaron Falzon injured, Nate Taphorn did a great job shooting, but Aaron Falzon was definitely missed in those final minutes when Taphorn was making silly mistakes on the floor. Although they lost a heart breaker, this team has showed clear signs of improvement in their game from last year. The Wildcats will need to improve more as they head towards conference play. There is no reason they can’t win close games in conference play. And there is no excuse when they don’t.