PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) — Ron Harper Jr. had 14 points and 11 rebounds, Myles Johnson controlled the paint with 12 points and 14 rebounds and No. 25 Rutgers beat Northwestern 64-50 on Saturday night.
The Wildcats were held to 33% shooting in their lowest-scoring game of the season.
Harper, a preseason All-Big Ten selection, struggled after a strong start to the season.
“Sheesh. It feels so good for the ball to go in,” Harper said. “Just seeing it go in, the threes are going to fall. I told y’all (the media) at the beginning of the year, 0 for 4, 0 for 100, 2 for 58, I’m going to shoot it when I’m open. I have confidence in myself. My teammates have confidence in me.”
Johnson scored all 12 of his points in the first half on 5-of-6 shooting.
“It’s not really me,” Johnson said. “It’s just my teammates. They find me when I’m open, and I put the ball in the basket. I’m happy that they found me and they’re always looking out.”
Jacob Young added 13 points for Rutgers (12-7, 8-7 Big Ten), and Caleb McConnell had 10 points and seven rebounds.
Anthony Gaines and Chase Audige each scored 11 points for Northwestern (6-12, 3-11) . The Wildcats have lost 11 games in a row after a 6-1 start.
Northwestern led by as many as 10 early in the first half at 14-4, but Rutgers would go on a run of their own to go into the break up 37-27.
“After they jumped on us quickly, I thought we settled down,” Pikiell said.
The Wildcats got back in it with an 11-0 run early in the second half, making it 41-38 with 13:04 remaining. However, within three is the closest they would get the rest of the way.
After a lopsided loss at No. 15 Iowa, Rutgers needed the victory to have any chance of staying in the Top 25.
Rutgers guard Paul Mulcahy broke his nose in the first half of the last game vs. No. 15 Iowa. He played the rest of that game, and played today’s game with a face shield a la former Detroit Pistons great Richard Hamilton.
“Paul has been playing with a finger that got dislocated, he’s got a broken nose. He’s tough as can be, and he was ready to go today.” Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell said of the Bayonne, N.J. native, adding. “He’s one of the toughest guys I’ve ever coached.”
Northwestern: First-year guard Ty Berry missed his second consecutive game to return home after his father died Tuesday.
Rutgers: Barring a catastrophic collapse in the final few weeks of the season, the Scarlet Knights have put themselves in good position to end the program’s 30-year NCAA Tournament drought.
Northwestern: Hosts No. 6 Illinois on Tuesday night.
Rutgers: At No. 3 Michigan on Thursday night.