Northwestern too much for Rhode Island, 72-61

Updated:

Brooks Barnhizer had 18 points and nine rebounds, and Boo Buie scored 16 points to lift Northwestern to a 72-61 victory against Rhode Island in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off tournament on Saturday in Uncasville, Conn.

The Wildcats (4-0) raced to a 22-2 lead and used the cushion to advance to face Mississippi State for the tournament championship on Sunday.

The Bulldogs defeated Washington State earlier Saturday. Wazzu will meet Rhode Island for the consolation title Sunday.

Rhode Island (3-1) struggled to 29.6 shooting in the first half, including a 2-for-10 effort from long range. At 35.3 percent, Northwestern wasn’t much better from the floor in the early going, but the early surge ultimately proved the difference.

Tyson Brown’s putback layup brought the Rams to within 6-2 at the 16:23 mark of the opening half, but Rhode Island didn’t score again until Luis Kortright hit a jumper nearly nine minutes later.

That jumpstarted Rhode Island on a 24-11 run to end the half. Zek Montgomery had 10 points during the spurt as the Rams pulled to within 33-26 at intermission.

Northwestern maintained its composure out of halftime, though. Barnhizer swished a trey in the opening minute of the second half to again push the Wildcats ahead by double digits.

Rhode Island cut the deficit to nine with 4:18 to go, but Northwestern responded with a quick 5-0 run.

Ty Berry scored 13 points for the Wildcats, including a team-best three treys, to join Barnhizer an Buie in double figures. Blake Preston dished five assists.

The Wildcats enjoyed a 34-22 edge in points in the paint while outrebounding the Rams 39-30.

Montgomery finished with 18 points for the Rams. Cam Estevez followed with 15 while Kortright was next with 11. Jaden House was Rhode Island’s top rebounder with seven.

Northwestern improved to 1-2 all-time against Rhode Island. Before Saturday, the schools’ most recent meeting came in the opening round of the 2010 NIT.