Women’s Basketball: Freshmen shine as Wildcats romp

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Brian Lee/Daily Senior Staffer

Freshman Christen Inman accrued 21 points in Northwestern’s exhibition game against Lewis and was the Wildcats’ leading scorer Wednesday. The guard was a perfect 3-for-3 from behind the arc.

Josh Walfish, Reporter

This was one game when the score didn’t matter to the Wildcats.

Northwestern easily dismissed Lewis 98-57 on Wednesday in the team’s final exhibition before the regular season begins on Sunday. For coach Joe McKeown, however, the game was more about figuring out his lineups and getting his team members used to playing with one another. If the early returns were an indication, the team’s bonding is strong.

“We got real good chemistry,” McKeown said. “Our team really likes each other.”

The 31-point victory was highlighted by the play of NU’s four freshmen, three of whom started the game for the Cats. Guard Christen Inman led all scorers with 21 points and forward Nia Coffey added 14 points to help the offensive effort.

“They’re all dynamic in their own way,” McKeown said. “They got to get through the growing pains of college basketball and being the focal point of the other team’s defense.”

“They looked great,” senior forward La’Terria Taylor added. “They just bring a lot of energy to the floor, which is what we need, especially going into games where more transition is played.”

After only playing against each other for the last seven months, the chance to play against a team in different color uniforms was exciting. For the freshmen who put the purple and white on for the first time, it was a learning experience about the world of college basketball.

“It’s just great to just get out of practice finally and finally get to compete against other people other than our teammates,” Inman said. “It was a really good chance to see what we have … and I think for the freshman it was just good to see how a gameday really is because we’ve never been in this situation.”

Five NU players scored double-figures and all 11 players who entered the game got on the score sheet. The Cats shot 50.6 percent from the field and a remarkable 50 percent from behind the arc.

As good as the offense was, the defense was a bigger storyline entering the season. NU held Lewis to just 30 percent shooting and a putrid 3-of-23 from 3-point range.

McKeown said he wanted to work on his team’s defense in the offseason, and Wednesday’s game provided a glimmer of hope. The coach said he was happy with the way his defense played but still thinks there are plenty of places to improve before Sunday.

“Defensively I felt like we turned up the heat and we were able to score in transition, which became our offense for a while,” McKeown said. “We were also a little sloppy defensively too, which made things a little tough at times.”

After averaging more than 18 turnovers a year ago, the Cats only turned the ball over 12 times in the win. A big reason for the turnovers was the fact the Cats were without the services of junior point guard Karly Roser, who was out with an upper-body injury. The junior has started all 60 games in her career and her veteran presence was sorely missed running the offense.

However, Roser’s absence may have been a blessing in disguise as McKeown was able to try out different people at the point. The coach singled out Taylor, freshman guard Ashley Deary and sophomore guard Maggie Lyon as players who could handle the ball if called upon this season.

NU opens the regular season Sunday against Illinois-Chicago, which beat NU last time the teams faced off back in 2007. Roser is officially listed as questionable for the game with the Flames.

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