After a poor first half in their first game against UMass-Lowell, the Northwestern Wildcats had a better start against the Fairfield Stags.
Aaron Falzon, who had a great game against UMass, hit two three pointers in the first two minutes of the game and that set the tone for the first half. After a 20 point game in his Wildcat debut, Falzon had another double digit scoring effort. He is showing that his three point shooting can be a big plus to the offense.
Northwestern had a great first half on offense as they scored 39 points in the first half and went into the half up 39-29 on Fairfield. But they also had a solid defensive half as they forced 10 Fairfield turnovers.
The Wildcats did a good job of keeping Fairfield star Marcus Gilbert under check as he was held to just five points and four turnovers in just the first half. After lighting up North Carolina for 25 points in their last game, Gilbert struggled in the first half but picked it up in the second half as Fairfield made things interesting in Evanston.
Northwestern started off the second half the way they started the first half as Bryant McIntosh started to assert himself on offense. McIntosh helped Northwestern stretch their lead. But Fairfield began to pick it up as the Stags went on a 13-4 run to cut the lead down to single digits with eight minutes left.
Led by Gilbert, who finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds, Fairfield started to worry the Northwestern crowd as they cut the lead down to five. But once again, McIntosh made a clutch layup with less than a minute left to extend the lead to seven and essentially seal the game.
It was an overall good game for Northwestern as they beat a sneaky opponent in Fairfield. The Stags stayed with the number one team in the country in UNC so they were sure to be a sneaky pick to beat Northwestern.
But that wasn't the case as Northwestern now go to 2-0 on the season. Their next game will be against Colombia on Friday. That will be the final pre-test before Northwestern play their biggest game of the young season against North Carolina.
Chris Collins' team will have to certainly play better as they go along and face tougher opponents than the teams they have played so far. But there are positives on this team. The play of Falzon and the fact that they have had different leading scorers every night has to give Collins some comfort about the scoring of this team.
It's a long season and Northwestern is just getting started. The biggest test is in two weeks against UNC.