If its first two games are any indication, Northwestern basketball is in for a wild ride.
Five days after they face-planted in a season-opening loss to transitioning Division I newcomer Merrimack, the Wildcats rebounded with a 72-63 victory over Providence in a Gavitt Tipoff Games matchup.
Wednesday’s game at Welsh-Ryan Arena also had some wild swings. Northwestern led 55-35 with 12:37 to play and then fumbled the ball away repeatedly against the Friars’ pressure. The Wildcats committed 20 turnovers in all.
When Miller Kopp carelessly threw the ball away with about five minutes to play, NU coach Chris Collins put his hands in the sit-up position and turned from the floor.
Pat Spencer appeared to get stripped on the next NU possession, but officials called a reach-in foul.
Providence cut its deficit to three, but Northwestern survived, getting a tough basket down low from center Ryan Young for a 64-59 lead. The redshirt freshman led the Wildcats with 16 points on 7-for-9 shooting.
Anthony Gaines had 14 points and Kopp 12.
Providence (2-1) has made the NCAA Tournament in five of the last six years and is projected for the middle of the pack in the Big East this season.