Women’s Basketball: Northwestern snaps five-game skid with win at Illinois


Austin Yattoni/The Daily Illini

Christen Inman shoots a 3-pointer. The junior guard has started every game for the Wildcats this season.

Cole Paxton, Reporter

Women’s Basketball

Northwestern did two things Thursday it hasn’t done in a long time: win, and win on the road.

Junior forward Nia Coffey recorded a double-double with 20 points and 13 rebounds, and junior guard Christen Inman added 20 points as the Wildcats (14-9, 3-8 Big Ten) defeated Illinois (8-14, 1-10) 69-59 in Champaign. With the win, NU snapped a five-game losing streak and won on the road for the first time since Dec. 13.

“We’ve had a tough stretch,” coach Joe McKeown said. “We’ve had some great games that have been tough losses, and I think our team stayed committed to each other. That was really important. It was one of the things that we’ve been preaching in practice.”

The win, only the team’s second in its past nine games, came against the Big Ten’s worst team. The Fighting Illini, who have now lost five in a row, frequently looked out of sorts.

The Cats began to pull away late in the third quarter, using a brief 8-2 spurt to take a 46-42 lead at the end of the period. The Fighting Illini got no closer than 4 after junior guard Ashley Deary hit a 3-pointer to end the third period scoring.

NU led wire-to-wire in the fourth quarter and led by as many as 12, with Inman scoring 10 of her 20 points in the final period.

“It’s something I work on in practice every day,” Inman said of her shooting. “Once one goes (in), it just gets more comfortable.”

The Cats benefitted from inconsistent play from the Fighting Illini all night long. In the first and third quarters, the Illinois offense seemingly disappeared as the Fighting Illini scored just 17 points in those periods combined.

In the second quarter, the hosts went on a 16-2 run in fewer than 5 minutes, with the Cats committing three turnovers and the Fighting Illini shooting 7-of-10 from the field. Overall, Illinois outscored the Cats 25-8 in the period, turning a 12 point NU lead after one quarter to a 5 point Illinois advantage at halftime.

“Even when they went with five guards … in the second quarter, they played really well,” McKeown said.

NU, however, climbed back methodically. The Cats were able to shake off recent fourth quarter struggles and put the game away as they continue their quest to return to the NCAA Tournament.

Inman said Thursday represented an opportunity for NU to dig in its heels and end the 5-game slide.

“We felt like we were really killing ourselves with self-inflicted wounds,” she said. “We felt like we had this game, we felt like it was in our hands to lose. We said we needed to buckle down and just focus on coming out with better intensity, better focus on offense and defense.”

This story was updated with postgame quotes.

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