Women’s Basketball: No. 25 Northwestern demolishes No. 20 Rutgers in statement game


Luke Vogelzang/The Daily Northwestern

Lauren Douglas skies for the jumper. The junior forward needed just 19 minutes to produce 13 points, part of a diverse scoring effort from the Wildcats in an 80-60 win.

Khadrice Rollins, Reporter

Women’s Basketball

If there was any doubt about the Wildcats being one of the top 25 teams in the country, it dissipated Thursday night.

No. 25 Northwestern (22-6, 12-5 Big Ten) made a statement at Welsh-Ryan Arena, pushing its winning streak to eight in an 80-60 victory over No. 20 Rutgers (20-8, 11-6).

“It just felt like we found another gear and just kept making plays,” coach Joe McKeown said.

In the opening 20 minutes, the Cats played with the same poise and control they exhibited throughout the month. NU never trailed during the first half, and its lead was as large as 10 points thanks to a 10-2 run that took place late in the half.

One of the catalysts for the great start was junior guard Maggie Lyon. The Cats’ sharp shooter played to her strengths and went 3-of-6 from beyond the arc in the opening half.

She was the game’s leading scorer at the break with 13 points.

“We did a good job getting her the ball in good spots, and she was ready to shoot,” McKeown said.

Lyon was also the top assister in the half as she and junior forward Lauren Douglas each had three.

In the second half, NU came out on fire. The defense continued to cause fits for Rutgers and the offense could do no wrong. The Cats used a 14-3 run at the start of the half to widen the gap and take a 46-27 lead.

“Our key focus was to not let them come back,” sophomore guard Ashley Deary said. “And when we had them down, to keep them down.”

The Scarlet Knights started to get their offense going after NU’s initial outburst at the start of the half, but it was too late. The Cats were on a roll on offense and with just under 12 minutes left Lyon knocked down a pair of free throws to give them a 21-point lead.

The Cats wound up in the double bonus with 10 and a half minutes left in the game, and despite being just 10th in the conference in free throw percentage, they made Rutgers pay. After neither team attempted a foul shot in the first half, both squads were given a chance to earn some easy points in the second. While the Scarlet Knights shot just 6-of-13 from the line, the Cats connected on 12-of-16 free throws.

Easy points would be the key to NU’s dominance in the final half as they outscored Rutgers in the paint, 36-20. The lead would grow as large as 23 thanks to Douglas and Deary, who combined for 26 of the team’s 48 second-half points.

“Lanes just kind of opened up for me and everyone else,” Deary said. “And that’s how we executed and scored.”

Five Cats finished in double figures, with Deary being the leading scorer at 19. Lyon, Douglas and senior center Alex Cohen had 17, 13 and 10 respectively. Sophomore forward Nia Coffey picked up her seventh double-double in eight games as she poured in 15 points to go along with 10 rebounds.

“I think that’s what’s hard about us to guard as a team is that on any given night anybody can have 15 points,” Douglas said. “So you can’t really just stop one person, you have to stop all of us.”

As the team gets ready for its final regular season game and what looks like a promising postseason, McKeown refuses to look too far ahead or relish in success for too long.

“I know this, I know we beat Rutgers tonight,” he said. “I know you want to enjoy this, but we got Maryland on Sunday.”

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