Northwestern 66, Robert Morris 46
EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) _ Northwestern’s Ricky Byrdsong was worried that his team, already plagued with injuries, would not be able to keep up with the quickness of Robert Morris on Saturday.
But those concerns quickly disappeared as the Wildcats, behind a stingy defense and a game high 21 points from Geno Carlisle, went on to an easy 66-46 victory.
``We wanted to run, but to be able to run we got to push the ball up court and we didn’t do that,″ said Robert Morris coach Jarrett Durham.
That’s because Northwestern’s defense held the Colonials to 38 percent shooting and forced them into making 18 turnovers.
``The difference was exceptional defense, at least for 30 minutes,″ said Byrdsong. ``With eight guys I was a little concerned with this team’s quickness. We were very good defensively (and) we kept out turnovers (12) down.″
Byrdsong also was pleased his team was able to control the boards, especially in the second half when the Wildcats allowed just three offensive rebounds.
What was discouraging to the coach was the 63 percent free throw shooting (20-of-32).
Carlisle scored 15 of his points in the first half. Northwestern held a 34-20 lead at the break.
The Wildcats pulled away in the second half and led by 19 points with 14:49 left on a layup by Jevon Johnson.
Carlisle converted one-of-two free throws at 4:16 to give the Wildcats a 60-37, and then sat out the rest of the contest.
``They (Wildcats) were a little too big, too strong,″ said Durham. ``Northwestern took our three-point shots away.″
A pair of free throws by Craig Duerksen gave the Wildcats their biggest lead, 63-39, with 3:10 left.
Johnson added 14 points and Joe Branch 12 for Northwestern.
Robert Morris was led by Bacari Alexander, who had 10 points.
Keith Jones, who entered the game as Robert Morris’ top scorer, 14 point average, and high rebounder, averaging 10, played only 5 minutes in the first half because of two quick fouls. He finished the game with just three points and six rebounds in 15 minutes of play.
The victory improved Northwestern’s record to 2-1; while the defeat was the first for Robert Morris in three games.