Northwestern routs Mississippi Valley State 101-49
EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) Northwestern needed an emphatic win Sunday evening. Alex Olah and the Wildcats left little doubt they would get one.
Olah scored 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and the Wildcats snapped a three-game losing streak by beating Mississippi Valley State 101-49 on Sunday.
Nathan Taphorn had 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting while Bryant McIntosh and Tre Demps had 15 points apiece for the Wildcats, who were playing without senior guard JerShon Cobb (right foot) but still eased to their highest point total and most lopsided victory of the season.
''Certainly, it was good to be able to win again. We talked about that with our guys - that coming off the layoff for final exams and dropping our last three games, we haven't felt winning in a while,'' Northwestern coach Chris Collins said. ''We talked about having that chip on our shoulder coming into this game.''
Northwestern (6-3) dominated play for most of the night - placing five players in double figures - and shot 57.4 percent, including 11 of 24 from beyond the arc. They had dropped decisions to Northern Iowa, Georgia Tech and Butler, the last of which came eight days ago.
Cobb, who averaged 12.2 points last season, has struggled so far contributing only 5.1 points through eight games. He wore a large gray walking boot on his right leg during the game, and Collins said he's been shut down indefinitely.
''JerShon, I feel for him because he's working incredibly hard,'' Collins said. ''He's been a great older veteran leader on this team, and he's just not moving great.''
Even without Cobb, the Wildcats had no trouble with an overmatched MVSU (1-8), who were led by Latrell Love's 15 points in the middle of an extremely testing non-conference schedule.
The Delta Devils shot only 29 percent from the field and lost their second straight following their lone victory of the season, a 66-63 win over North Carolina A&T on Nov. 29.
Sunday was MVSU's first game since their 74-50 defeat on Dec. 3 at Oregon State. They have also lost to major-conference opponents Indiana, Mississippi State, and Texas Christian, with a matchup against Iowa State on Dec. 31 looming.
''I thought we would play better. Offensively, this was our worst game of the year,'' MVSU coach Andre Payne said. ''But the most disappointing thing was defensively. We've been pretty good at causing steals, causing turnovers - we did not bring our A-game.''
That was apparent early against the Wildcats, who went into halftime up 21 points after McIntosh hit a 3-pointer right as the half ended.
Two Olah free throws with 8:53 remaining in the first half gave the Wildcats their first 10-point lead. Vic Law's emphatic one-handed dunk with 7:54 to go in the half gave the Wildcats a 29-15 lead, and Demps' slam with 3:09 to go before halftime grew the lead to 17.
''It feels great. I think it stinks when you lose three in a row. There's just kind of a cloud that hangs over everybody's head,'' Demps said. ''It carries over to everything that you do.''
MVSU: The Delta Devils don't play their first home game until Dec. 20, and that's against North Carolina Central in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Their first game in Greenwood is Jan. 10 against Alabama A&M. Sunday was the Delta Devils' second game against a Big Ten opponent, following their 116-65 loss to Indiana on Nov. 14.
NORTHWESTERN: Prior to Sunday, the Wildcats' five previous wins had been by a combined 32 points, including two by three points or fewer. Northwestern improved to 5-1 all-time against MVSU, and won its fifth straight against MVSU in Evanston.
MVSU was overmatched to begin with, and that was made worse by the absences of Tyler Corley and Charles Bargman. Leading scorer Jordan Washington only scored nine points, and didn't start because of disciplinary reasons. Payne, however, wasn't letting his team off the hook. ''When you're out-manned and you're undersized, you have to bring your A-game in order to just compete,'' Payne said. ''This is the first game all year where we just didn't compete.''
ALL THEY NEEDED
Playing against an undersized MVSU, Olah probably could have had more than 17 points and 10 rebounds. But Collins limited him to 20 minutes for precautionary reasons as the Wildcats have three more games before Christmas. ''I thought Alex in the 20 minutes - he did what he's supposed to do,'' Collins said.
MVSU: Tuesday at Northern Illinois.
NORTHWESTERN: Wednesday at home against Central Michigan.