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Women’s Basketball: Young Wildcats seek Senior Night spark

Senior guard Meghan McKeown, whose father is the team’s coach, says her last game at Northwestern will offer some closure. McKeown and fellow senior guard La’Terria Taylor will be honored on Thursday’s Senior Night against Michigan State.

Daily file photo by Annabel Edwards

Senior guard Meghan McKeown, whose father is the team’s coach, says her last game at Northwestern will offer some closure. McKeown and fellow senior guard La’Terria Taylor will be honored on Thursday’s Senior Night against Michigan State.

Bobby Pillote, Reporter

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Northwestern will bid farewell to two seniors in its final home game of the season Thursday against Michigan State.

Guards La’Terria Taylor and Meghan McKeown will take the court at Welsh-Ryan Arena for the final time, and both will leave the program with incredible stories as they graduate.

Taylor didn’t even play her first two years as a Wildcat.

In her first official practice with the team, she broke a bone in her foot coming down with a rebound, but that was just the beginning. She subsequently ruptured her plantar fascia, re-fractured her foot and tore her Achilles tendon. The latter is a particularly severe injury, requiring eight to nine months of recovery. Returning to the court wasn’t easy.

“A lot of it was just dedication, hard work and really keeping that faith,” Taylor said.

Despite the challenges she’s had to overcome, Taylor has battled back to become a valuable veteran on a freshman-laden roster. Even with her sparse playing time, just 4.3 minutes a game, she is an unquestioned leader of the team.

“I hope I’m an inspiration to them,” she said, “that you should never give up, that anything is possible and that you should dedicate yourself and reach out to your teammates, keep them together and be a leader.”

Taylor appeared in just seven games last season, but earned Academic All-Big Ten honors for her achievements in the classroom.

Meghan McKeown, on the other hand, has had a more tangible on-court impact in her four years at NU. The daughter of coach Joe McKeown has been a valuable rotation player off the bench this season, especially while the team dealt with the absence of backup point guard Karly Roser through the first two-thirds of the schedule.

McKeown had her best season as a sophomore, when she appeared in all 30 games and achieved Academic All-Big Ten honors. The following year, she played just three contests before being sidelined with a hip injury but was once again named Academic All-Big Ten.

This season, just like Taylor, she’s fought back to become a valuable leader.

“Terri and I hope that we set that example for them,” she said. “We hope that they’ll carry on our leadership.”

As he watches his daughter take her home court for the final time, Joe McKeown is sure to be more emotional than usual.

“It’s definitely going to be interesting,” Meghan McKeown said. “Maybe that last game we play will be more emotional, but for now it’s kind of a cool closure thing.”

And obviously, emotions will be running high for Taylor and Meghan McKeown. Neither has started in their career, but both are expected to be in the starting lineup Thursday.

Still, the game will come down to NU’s young core. Led by three freshmen, the brigade of usual starters has struggled through six straight losses. Taylor had a simple message for them heading into senior night.

“Work hard and have fun,” she said. “You can work so hard and forget this is a game that you love. It’s supposed to be something that you do for fun.”

Email: robertpillote2017@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @BobbyPillote

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