NU Off To Best Start Since ’96 (Women’s Basketball)

Matt Baker

By Matt BakerThe Daily Northwestern

After falling behind early against Miami (Ohio), Northwestern got a spark from its newest starter.

Freshman Kaitlin McInerney, playing in her third regular season game, scored four straight points in the first five minutes to give the Wildcats the lead for good, as NU trounced the RedHawks 80-51 for its first 3-0 start since the 1995-1996 season.

“This was a great road test for us,” coach Beth Combs said. “We didn’t come out with the intensity I would have liked, but we responded very well.”

Miami (1-2) got out to a quick start, taking a 9-6 lead in the first five minutes. But McInerney’s two inside buckets sparked an 11-2 run to give NU a six-point lead with 8:55 left in the first half.

Combs said their first road trip and distractions from off the court led to the Cats’ sluggish start.

“We’ve got kids getting ready for finals and the holidays,” Combs said. “It was a long week for us both academically and on the court. Fortunately we were able to focus really early and overcome that early on.”

NU’s 55.9 field goal percentage gave the Cats a 44-27 lead at halftime.

Senior A.J. Glasauer led the Cats with 16 points in the first half against the RedHawks’ zone defense.

“We moved the ball very well,” Glasauer said. “We had some open shots, so that’s where I hit them.”

The Cats continued to dominate the second half, scoring the period’s first 11 points. They extended their lead to 30 in the half’s first five minutes.

While NU’s offense continued to click, shooting 50.9 percent from field for the game, their lead grew as Miami went through scoreless droughts. The RedHawks, who averaged 88 points a game in their first two contests, shot just 23.5 percent against NU.

“I’d like to take credit for that, but I think they just had a poor shooting night,” Combs said. “We were aggressive in one-on-one, but they just shot poorly, and we were able to capitalize.”

As the Cats increased their lead, Combs said her team let Miami back into the game with foolish mistakes. NU finished with 21 turnovers and 23 fouls.

“We grabbed the lead and then got sloppy and lax with the ball,” Combs said. “We put ourselves in a bad situation. We’ve got to be able to focus and play for 40 minutes and not let lulls in our play grow.”

McInerney led the Cats with eight rebounds and three blocks, adding 12 points for the best game of her college career. Glasauer led NU with 22 points on 9-of-16 shooting.

“We didn’t do the little things correctly, and we were not completely satisfied with our performance,” McInerney said. “But we won, and that’s all that’s important.”

The Cats look to grab more wins at the Junkanoo Jam tournament over Thanksgiving in the Bahamas. A first-round win against Mississippi could lead to a match-up against No. 1 Maryland in the tournament’s final.

“Of course we have to think first about that first game, but it’s in the back of our head,” Glasauer said. “It’s great motivator for the first game, to play the champion from last year. Every team in the country wants that.”

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