Wildcats upset Gophers, show life at home

By Nader Ihmoud

The Northwestern University Wildcats upset the No. 12-ranked University of Minnesota Golden Gophers 55–48 at Welsh Ryan Arena on Jan. 23.

Wildcats Head Coach Bill Carmody went to a 1-3-1 defense during the second half, and it flustered the already struggling Gophers even more, according to senior guard Reggie Hearn.

The Gophers turned the ball over 10 times during that stretch, after only committing 5 turnovers during the first half. The Wildcats scored 6 fast break points because of their aggressive defense and eventually built a 10-point lead with five minutes remaining in regulation.

“This year our defense is a lot better,” Hearn said. “It’s helping us close out games like we did tonight.”

Heading into the second half, the Wildcats trailed by three points and were being out-rebounded 26–15. Despite having many opportunities, Minnesota only scored 6 second chance points in the first half. Hearn admitted his team was lucky to have only been down by 3 at the half.

Following the game, Carmody said he told his team during half time that they needed to keep the Gophers away from offensive rebounds and his team responded by only allowing 5 second chance opportunities during the second half.

Jared Swopshire, who led the Wildcats with a team high of 16 points and 8 rebounds, said the team has matured during the course of the season.

“We’ve had a few tough losses, but we felt we were right there,” he said. “We did some really good things, so we just try to learn from those things and move forward.”

Carmody and Hearn said the Wildcats’ defense has been good all year,  but holding the Gophers to 33 percent shooting and a season-low 48 points was their best performance thus far.

Three Wildcats players scored more than 10 points during their first conference win at home. Senior guard Tre Demps had 10 points, Hearn finished with 13 points and 5 rebounds, and Swopshire had a team high of 16 points and 8 rebounds.

“It’s great to get a win at Welsh Ryan Arena. I know that,” Carmody said.

Northwestern lost its four most recent home games before ending the drought by defeating its second ranked opponent in less than one week. The Wildcats also defeated No. 22-ranked University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on Jan. 17.

Next, the Wildcats go on the road to play the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers on Jan. 26 at 2 p.m.