Women’s Basketball: Wildcats look to follow up season-opening success in second game


Sam Schumacher/The Daily Northwestern

Jordan Hankins prepares to drive. The freshman guard received considerable playing time in the season opener and will likely see more action.

Will Ragatz, Reporter

Women’s Basketball

Northwestern will be looking to build off its dominant performance in its season-opening blowout against Howard when it takes on Idaho State at Welsh-Ryan Arena on Thursday.

Against Howard, junior forward Nia Coffey, who reached 1,000 career points in the 89-49 victory Sunday, led the way with 27 points in just 23 minutes. Two of her fellow juniors stepped up with big games as well, with guard Christen Inman putting up 18 points and guard Ashley Deary adding 16 points and seven assists.

Deary said the three juniors have grown a lot in two seasons of playing together.

“We’ve learned from our mistakes over the few years,” Deary said. “We like to stay together and be persistent.”

Coach Joe McKeown said he will be looking for big contributions from his talented crop of third-year players all season long. McKeown said as upperclassmen, those players are capable of doing even more than they have in the past two seasons.

Freshman guard Jordan Hankins impressed during her college debut, chipping in 13 points off of the bench, including a pair of three-pointers. Coffey said Hankins will play an important role this year.

“She’s a really good spark for us,” Coffey said. “Her aggressiveness and her shooting ability can bring this team to a whole other level.”

McKeown also praised Hankins’ performance in her first game.

“Jordan Hankins is a great scorer, and you saw a little bit (Sunday) of what she’s capable of,” McKeown said.

Although the Wildcats (1-0) beat Howard by 40, McKeown said he wasn’t fully satisfied with his squad’s performance. After scoring 50 points on 60 percent shooting in the first half, the Cats managed just 39 points in the second half, shooting 40 percent.

NU also found itself giving the ball away more in the final 20 minutes. The Cats had eight turnovers between the third and fourth quarters, compared to five in the first half.

“We got a little bit sloppy late in the game, but it gives us an idea of some things we have to work on,” McKeown said, specifically mentioning offensive movement and patience as things they will be looking to improve going forward.

Given who it was facing, the wide margin of victory in NU’s season opener wasn’t shocking. Howard went 0-16 on the road last season and ranked 341 out of 349 Division I teams in RPI. Idaho State (1-0) will be a step up in competition. In their first game of this season, the Bengals defeated Division II Colorado Christian by a score of 82-56.

The Bengals finished 13-17 last year, including 8-10 in the Big Sky Conference. However, Idaho State returns its three leading scorers, including senior guard Apiphany Woods, a Chicago native who led the team with 15.5 points per game.

Besides slowing down the Idaho State offense, the Cats will need to address its rebounding issues in this upcoming matchup. NU was outrebounded 45-43 by Howard, but should be more successful on the glass Thursday. Idaho State doesn’t have a player taller than 6’2” on its roster.

This is the second of three consecutive home games for the Cats before they head to Texas for the Lone Star Showcase.

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