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Game Recap: Northwestern Defeats Eastern Illinois in Season Opener

The Wildcats got into a rhythm in their 80-56 win over the Panthers.

Northwestern was victorious in its season opener after an 80-56 win over Eastern Illinois Tuesday night at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

First Half

Northwestern started their season opener on the right foot. After initially going down 5-0 early, the Wildcats went on a run and soon led 21-12 after an interior pass from redshirt junior center Ryan Young to graduate student forward Elyjah Williams for the easy layup. 

Northwestern led by as many as 15 after junior forward Robbie Beran slammed home an and-one dunk to put the Wildcats up 32-17. Since that possession, Northwestern scored only eight points the remainder of the half. The Panthers scored another 12 to cut the deficit to 11 going into halftime. 

The Wildcats were led by senior guard Boo Buie who finished the first half with 10 points. Nance followed close behind with 8 on 4-for-7 shooting.

Northwestern was largely able to build their lead because of their frenetic defense. They forced 7 first half turnovers and held the Panthers to 36% shooting from the field.

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The Wildcats led the Panthers 40-29 at the half.

Second Half

The WIldcats opened the second half with a pair of field goals from Nance. After a few back-and-forth field goals, the two teams went over 2:30 without a score. 

Northwestern got a spark of energy from Williams, who put up a second-chance driving layup followed by a 3-point jumper off an EIU turnover, giving the 'Cats an 55-34 point lead.

Nance went to the bench after receiving his fourth personal foul just after the under-12 media timeout, while the Wildcats held a 20-point lead.

Northwestern finished the game shooting 41% from the field and 36% from three-point range. Buie led the Wildcats in the second half with 17 points. Guard Ty Berry led the squad with 6 assists. The Panthers were limited to only 56 points (27 in the second half) on 37% shooting from the field.

FINAL: Northwestern 80 — Eastern Illinois 56