Quantcast 2010 NIT Basketball Tournament: Northwestern vs Rhode Island

Northwestern Basketball 2010

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NIT First Round Recap - Northwestern vs Rhode Island

(2) Rhode Island 76, (7) Northwestern 64

For most teams, the NIT is the white elephant.  Nobody really wants to play in the consolation tourney after battling from November to March to make the Big Dance.

However, Northwestern and Rhode Island were both thrilled just to be playing.  Moreover, the contrasting styles of the Rams and Wildcats made for a genuinely compelling matchup, despite what some may say about the prestige and cachet of the NIT as a whole.  Northwestern’s methodical, old-school offense and 1-3-1 zone clashed with Rhode Island’s run-and-gun, fast-paced, rapid-fire attack.

Northwestern Wildcats Hats & ApparelThe battle of tempos went back and forth all night, but the pace-pushing Rams got the better of it.  Rhody forced the Cats out of their comfort zone, and took advantage of Northwestern’s cold three-point shooting in the second half to win, 76-64, and move on to the second round.

Lamonte Ulmer led the Rams with 17 points. Michael “Juice” Thompson led all scorers with 24 points for Northwestern.

Freshman Akeem Richmond caught fire for Rhody late in the first half, helping URI to a 37-30 halftime lead.  The rookie poured in 14 points – 12 from the three-point line – in the opening stanza, and finished with 16.  In an otherwise airtight game, Richmond’s hot hand made a big difference. 

Rhode Island selectively applied full-court pressure, and was able to force the tempo just enough.  The Rams pushed the ball down the floor for quick shots, and even when they weren’t falling, Northwestern was nonetheless unable to set up its more methodical game.

Even when Northwestern was set up in the halfcourt, URI was often able to put extra pressure on the ball, defend the three-point line, and isolate the ballhandler, eliminating the ball movement that's crucial to the Wildcats’ Princeton-style offense under head coach Bill Carmody.

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Early in the second half, Rhody switched to a 1-3-1 zone defense, usually a Northwestern staple, to more effectively take away the three-pointer.  The move by Rams coach Jim Baron worked like a charm, as the Cats shot just 3-of-14 from long distance in the second half.
Starters Keith Cothran, Delroy James, and Marquis Jones combined for zero first-half points for Rhode Island.  James took control in the second half, though, scoring 12 points in the final 13:32 to carry the Rams to the win. 


Rhody is now 14-2 at home, and will host sixth-seeded Nevada in the second round. Nevada advanced to the NIT's round of 16 by topping Wichita State on the road, 74-70.


By James Lambert
BigTen-fans.com Guest Writer



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