Associated Press, November 18, 2017
UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) Bryant McIntosh and his Northwestern teammates put forth a strong defensive effort in the first half to help them beat La Salle.
McIntosh scored 21 points and Scottie Lindsey added 20 to lead the No. 20 Wildcats to an 82-74 win over La Salle in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament on Saturday.
"In the first half we came out ready to play," said McIntosh, who hit five 3-pointers and had seven assists. "We really defended and held them to 24 points."
The Wildcats (3-1) advance to play Texas Tech in Sunday's championship. Northwestern has not won an in-season tournament since the 2013 South Padre Island Invitational.
Derek Pardon added 14 points and seven rebounds for the Wildcats. Aaron Falzon chipped in 11 points.
Northwestern made 12 of 21 3-point attempts and shot 56 percent from the field. It was the second straight game the Wildcats made a dozen 3-pointers after going 12 of 28 against Creighton.
"We have a good shooting team, especially now when you add Aaron Falzon," Northwestern coach Chris Collins said. "We have a number of guys out there that can come in there and do that."
After suffering its first loss of the season to Creighton, 92-88 on Wednesday, Northwestern struggled early against the Explorers (3-1). Tied 13-13, the Wildcats loosened up with a 9-1 run that was capped by Lindsey's layup at 9:38 to make it 22-14.
Northwestern dominated inside and out the rest of the first half on the way to a 46-24 lead.
"I thought we had great energy in the first half," Collins said. "We built the lead and I thought we executed really well, made shots."
B.J. Johnson led La Salle with 22 points and seven rebounds. Johnson scored 15 points in the second half as the Explorers tried to comeback from a double-digit deficit by shooting 67.9 percent (19-for-28).
"They are a really good team and it's always hard to play a really good team after a loss," La Salle coach Dr. John Giannini said. "We were excited. We were ready. We did everything right in the first part of the first half except make wide open shots."
Northwestern shot 62.1 percent (18-for-29) overall in the first half to La Salle's 31.3 percent (10-for-32).
La Salle: The Explorers are in the middle of a three-game stretch against Power Five schools, and have played the second toughest non-league schedule in the Atlantic-10 over the last five years behind VCU, according to RPI rankings.
Northwestern: The Wildcats bounced back from a loss to Creighton, but likely need to beat Texas Tech to avoid falling out of the Top 25.
The Explorers cut the deficit to 64-57 with 8:38 to play, but Northwestern used a 13-4 run to pull away. The Wildcats were 4-for-4 on 3-pointers over that stretch, including three straight to take a 77-61 lead with 4:33 remaining. McIntosh made two 3-pointers, while Lindsey and Falzon each had one.
Falzon made his season debut after being out since last December with a knee injury. The red-shirt sophomore scored all his points on the perimeter, going 3-for-5 on 3-pointers, in 18 minutes.
TIP-INS: The Wildcats won the rebound battle 33-27, but La Salle held a 10-8 edge on the offensive boards. . Northwestern has been beaten on the boards in three straight games. . The Explorers scored 23 points off Northwestern's 14 turnovers. The Wildcats are averaging 14 turnovers per game. . Northwestern was 6-for-6 from the foul line.
La Salle plays Boston College before meeting its second ranked team of the season, No. 11 Miami, on Wednesday.
Northwestern returns home after the title game to host mid-major Sacred Heart, then closes the month at Georgia Tech.