Women’s Basketball: Morgan Jones scores 16 points in Northwestern debut

Chris Johnson

Northwestern kicked off its season Sunday at Welsh-Ryan Arena with an exhibition against Division II Lewis University, toppling the Flyers 83-61.

Senior Brittany Orban and freshman Morgan Jones led the way for the Wildcats with 16 points each. Junior Kendall Hackney also had a strong day for NU, scoring 12 points and falling just one rebound shy of a double-double.

“It was a chance for us to see what works and what doesn’t work,” Orban said. “It doesn’t go on our record, but overall, there were a lot of things we did well and a lot of things that we didn’t do so well.”

Jones hit a three on the Cats’ opening possession, sparking an 18-2 run. The early success on the offensive end carried over to the other side of the ball, where NU held Lewis to just one field goal in the first eight minutes. But the Cats were unable to maintain their defensive pressure, giving up 26 points over the final 12 minutes of the first period and 33 in the second half.

“We really didn’t execute on defense as the game wore on,” Jones said. “But I think it’s a mental thing. We all know we can play defense, it’s just a matter of executing what we do in practice.”

Karly Roser joined Jones as the only two freshmen to start Sunday. The duo combined for eight steals, which helped lead to NU’s 20 fast-break points.

Alex Cohen, another highly touted freshman, was effective in her NU debut, contributing seven points and five rebounds in 19 minutes. The three freshmen are expected to be big contributors this season, according to coach Joe McKeown.

“So far, I can really only go off of what they’re doing in practice,” McKeown said. “All three of them have been going through the ups and downs of preseason. But I’m really proud of all three.”

NU will play its first regular-season game on Friday, when it will take on a Central Michigan team that scored 84 points in Evanston last year. Despite their defensive struggles against the Chippewas, the Cats emerged victorious in that game behind a stellar 37-point performance from departed star Amy Jaeschke. Now, NU will have to figure out a way to win without its all-time second leading scorer.

“It’s impossible to ever really just replace a player like that,” McKeown said. “Everybody has to contribute. Over the course of our non-conference schedule, we’re going to have to establish who we really are.”

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