It looked like Northwestern basketball took a page from the football team.
The Wildcats embraced the concept of “winning ugly,” blowing past TCU 55-31 in the South Padre Island Invite.
The last time a Northwestern opponent scored fewer points was on Nov. 21, 1998, when the Cats beat Oakland 68-30.
TCU, which scored only 44 points against Prairie View A&M on Sunday, continued its offensive ineptitude. The Horned Frogs shot less than 27 percent from the field, missed all six of their three-point attempts and made only five of 12 free throws.
NU had struggles of its own on offense, but recovered to pull away down the stretch. The Wildcats leaned on Jared Swopshire, who led all scorers with 15 points.
Swopshire, Drew Crawford, and Reggie Hearn scored 35 of NU’s first 37 points. It took until the 3:29 mark of the second half for the Cats to tally a bench point.
But it was still a comfortable win for the Cats. After a lousy start, they shot 43 percent in the second half. In other promising news, Sanjay Lumpkin returned from illness to make his career debut.
NU advances to face Illinois State in the final on Saturday. The explosive Redbirds pose a challenge where TCU did not, as they averaged 88.2 points in their first five games – all of which were wins. They beat UAB in the other semifinal earlier on Friday, 77-65.
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