EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) - Alex Olah scored 21 points to lead Northwestern over Southern Illinois Edwardsville 81-56 on Saturday.
Aaron Falzon added 17 and Bryant McIntosh chipped in with 11 for Northwestern (7-1), which has won four straight. The Wildcats shot 51.7 percent overall, made nine 3-pointers as a team and got five 3-pointers from Falzon. The Wildcats were boosted 12 first-half points from Olah and have their best eight-game start since 2011-12, when they also began 7-1.
Playing its first game after beating Virginia Tech 81-79 in overtime Tuesday as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, Northwestern had little trouble with the visiting Cougars and led 35-26 at halftime despite shooting just 38.7 percent from the field during the opening 20 minutes.
The Cougars (1-7) lost their seventh straight since opening the season with a 79-70 win over Arkansas State. SIUE also fell to 0-4 on the road, and is in the middle of a three-game trip away from home.
The Wildcats, who won't play again until Dec. 13, took their first 10-point lead at 23-13 with 6:23 left in the first half on a layup by Sanjay Lumpkin. Northwestern built its advantage to 29-15 with 4:25 remaining on a 3-pointer by Falzon, a shot notable because Falzon was playing without his right shoe.
Northwestern was never really threatened during the second half. An Olah basket with 5:49 left in the second half put Northwestern ahead 65-44 and gave the Wildcats their first lead of at least 20 points.
Burak Eslik scored 13 points for SIUE, which hasn't lost by single digits since a 77-74 loss to Campbell on Nov. 24. Following that defeat, the Cougars have lost by at least 13 points in their following four contests.
Southern Illinois Edwardsville: The Cougars are in the middle of a stretch of four games in seven days. . Saturday's game was SIUE's first against a team from one of the five power conferences.
Northwestern: The Wildcats improved to 5-0 all-time against SIUE, and 2-0 against the Cougars since their 2011 transition to Division-I. . Tuesday night's win at Virginia Tech was the Wildcats' fifth OT game over the past two seasons.
Southern Illinois Edwardsville plays at Southern Illinois on Wednesday.
Northwestern hosts Chicago State next Sunday.