MBKB: WashU Bench steps up, Nolan raining Treys

WashU freshman Jack Nolan (Danny Reise/WUSTL Athletics Photo)

Last week was a big one for WashingtonU freshman guard Jack Nolan.

Nolan averaged 16.5 points per game and hit 7-of-12 three-pointers in a pair of road wins last week for the 10th-ranked Bears, who are off to an 8-1 start.

He scored a career-high 23 points on 5-of-7 three-point shooting in a 95-69 win at Illinois Wesleyan Sunday.

Senior forward Matt Highsmith had the hot hand for the Bears in the opening 10 minutes of play against the Titans, hitting his first four shots from the field as WashU led 19-18. The lead grew to double figures for WashU at 30-20 after a 12-0 run, highlighted by back-to-back threes by Highsmith and Nolan.

Nolan drained an 18-footer to increase the lead to 36-24 and force another IWU timeout with 5:43 to play. WashU continued to pour it on as back-to-back dunks from senior center David Schmelter extended the lead to 42-24.

Despite the success from behind the arc, that’s not the only area in which the Bears have flourished.

“Our offensive philosophy relies on creating a variety of shots and then having the players who can recognize a good shot and then make it.” said WashU head coach Mark Edwards. “Jack does a great job of fitting that profile. This is a great asset to have coming off the bench and makes our team more potent offensively.”

WashU took a 58-33 lead to the locker room as the Bears shot 58.3 percent (23-of-39) from the field, including 7-of-11 from three-point range.

Highsmith (16), Nolan (13) and senior forward Andrew Sanders (11) all scored in double figures and were a combined 20-of-23 from the field.

The Bears opened the second half on a 12-0 run to take a 71-33 lead. Kucera had six points of the 12 points with a three-pointer and a three-point play, and Schmelter added his third dunk of the contest.

Out of an IWU timeout, Nolan buried a pair of three pointers to give WashU a 81-46 lead and from there the Bears cruised to victory.

Earlier in the week against Fontbonne, the Bears broke open a three-point game midway through the second half with a 14-0 run to post a 98-68 win in the Wydown Showdown.

WashU’s bench scored 11 of the 14 points during the decisive run, including five points by sophomore guard Matt Nester and Nolan. Nester finished with a career-high 11 points, four assists and four rebounds in 19 minutes off the bench.

Nolan finished with 10 points on a pair of threes in the victory. He is currently averaging 10.1 points per game off the bench and is shooting 40.9 percent (18-of-44) from three-point range. He has scored in double figures five times this season, including the last three contests.

While just a freshman, Edwards said the Bears had an idea of what Nolan could produce for some time.

“We saw indicators of his success in high school when he attended our camp between his sophomore and junior years, but you never know how a player is going to adjust to the college game and to a new system of play.” said Edwards. “Jack picked it up right away and fit in very well. The question still remained as to how he would do in a game situation where he had to contribute in a variety of way besides shooting. Right from the beginning he demonstrated his willingness and ability to be a valuable player for us whether as a scorer or defender.”

Nolan and the Bears have a break before returning to action on Friday, Dec. 29, against No. 3-ranked Augustana College (8-1, 2-0 CCIW). Game time is set for 7 p.m.

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