Spencer scores 23, Northwestern rolls past Bradley 78-51

NCAA Basketball

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP)Pat Spencer tripled his scoring average with 23 points as Northwestern routed Bradley 78-51 in the Fort Myers TipOff on Wednesday night.

Spencer, who made all three of his 3-pointers and was 9-of-12 shooting, also had eight assists for the Wildcats, who now are 9-1 all-time against Bradley. It’s the first meeting between the teams in 34 years. The schools are 179 miles apart.

”Coach gave us a lot of confidence to shoot the ball,” Spencer said. ”We got the (pick and) rolls and kickouts going. We had a good flow tonight.”

Bradley coach Brian Wardle said, ”We didn’t contest his 3 pointers. He was finding everyone and controlled everything. He was the best guard on the floor.”

Miller Kopp and Ryan Young both added 13 points for Northwestern (3-2). The Wildcats made 10 of 20 3-pointers and 30 of 57 shots overall (53%). They also had a 40-26 rebound advantage.

Elijah Childs had 14 points and Darrell Brown added 13 for Bradley (4-2).

Bradley took a 6-0 lead but Northwestern answered with 11 straight points and 16 of the next 18 to go up 16-8. The Wildcats increased that margin to 39-19 as the Braves made just 22% of their shots. They finished making just 16 of 48 percent (33%).

”It’s not how you start but how you finish,” Bradley coach Brian Wardle said. ”Guys were confident, then we got away from what we were doing, not paying attention to the details and not executing. The effort was very poor. I was very disappointed.

”That’s butt whipping 101 and we have to take it. Hopefully we’ll come out tougher Wednesday.”

The closest Bradley came in the second half was 17 points. Northwestern’s biggest lead was 30.

BIG PICTURE

Northwestern: What a difference a few days makes. After Radford beat Northwestern and lost to Bradley, the Wildcats easily handled the Braves. Pete Nance, who averaged 15 points in Northwestern’s first four games, had just seven Monday night but the Wildcats found other scorers.

Bradley: After a great NCAA Tournament showing against Michigan State last year, Bradley missed a chance to build on its 4-1 start and get a Power 5 win.

FRIENDLY FOE

The Northwestern-Pittsburgh championship game on Wednesday is going to be interesting.

It’ll be a reuniting of former Duke teammates and dear friends Chris Collins and Jeff Capel. They played for the Blue Devils from 1994-97.

”Jeff is like a brother to me,” Collins said. ”We talk every day.”

Will they talk Tuesday?

”We’ll probably talk (Monday) night,” Collins said. ”We’re staying at the same hotel. Our families and wives are close.

”We’re just happy we’re meeting for the championship and not the third-place game.

UP NEXT

Northwestern will play Pittsburgh for the Fort Myers TipOff on Wednesday night.

Bradley will play Kansas State in the third-place game, also on Wednesday.

—–

For more AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.