Women’s Basketball: Northwestern holds on to top Oral Roberts

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Women’s Basketball: Northwestern holds on to top Oral Roberts

Ashley Deary pulls up from midrange. The senior guard put up 11 points to go over 1000 career points scored in Sunday's win against Oral Roberts.

Ashley Deary pulls up from midrange. The senior guard put up 11 points to go over 1000 career points scored in Sunday's win against Oral Roberts.

Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Ashley Deary pulls up from midrange. The senior guard put up 11 points to go over 1000 career points scored in Sunday's win against Oral Roberts.

Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Ashley Deary pulls up from midrange. The senior guard put up 11 points to go over 1000 career points scored in Sunday's win against Oral Roberts.

Cole Paxton, Assistant Sports Editor

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Women’s Basketball


Northwestern was in command early, then held on for dear life.

The Wildcats (2-0) dominated the first few minutes to build a commanding early lead against Oral Roberts (0-2), then did just enough to hold off a late Golden Eagles push to win 64-55 on Sunday at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

“We had two or three chances where, had we converted in transition and maybe got a stop, we might have been able to break the game open,” coach Joe McKeown said. “Instead, Oral Roberts hung in there and kept playing, came right back at us.”

Senior forward Nia Coffey led NU with 20 points and 11 rebounds, and a trio of guards — seniors Ashley Deary and Christen Inman and junior Lydia Rohde — each added 11 points of their own.

Oral Roberts, who started just one player taller than 5-foot-10, was no match for the Cats’ commanding frontcourt from the tip. Senior forward Lauren Douglas was particularly imposing, recording three first-half blocks and altering several other possessions. Freshman forward Abbie Wolf was also influential, managing a pair of early blocks.

NU’s offensive start was equally strong. Coffey scored 7 points in the opening four minutes, and the Cats’ built a 14-1 lead before the Golden Eagles made a field goal.

3-point shooting was another early strength for NU. After an 0-for-9 performance in last week’s exhibition against Illinois-Springfield and a 5-for-18 effort in Friday’s season-opening win over Hampton, Coffey and Rohde each nailed 3s in the opening minutes to help spark the Cats’ early run.

“We’re not a great shooting team yet, and we need to be,” McKeown said. “Once we get some flow in the offense, we’ll become really hard to guard.”

NU’s superb defensive start did not last, however, as the visitors found ways around the Cats’ post players and got to the free throw line. Oral Roberts matched NU’s 17 points in the second quarter, went on an 8-2 run to close the first half and pulled within 4 midway through the third quarter.

“We just had some defensive breakdowns at times that allowed them to score” Inman said.

Though the hosts stabilized in the third quarter and led by 11 at one point in the period, the Golden Eagles stormed back. A 6-0 run to begin the fourth quarter pulled the visitors within 3 points with 8:11 to play.

In crunch time, however, Coffey and Rohde helped the Cats pull away. Coffey hit a 3 to give NU a 6-point cushion with under 5 minutes to play, and Rohde added a triple of her own shortly thereafter. Coffey then found Rohde for a layup to push the lead to an unassailable 11 points with 2:52 to play.

Sunday’s game unfolded quite differently from Friday’s. The Cats struggled early against the Pirates and trailed by 8 after the first quarter before recovering and eventually pulling away from Hampton. On Sunday, the opening period was undoubtedly NU’s best.

Despite the divergent paths to victory, both of the Cats’ first two performances against mid-major opponents have been somewhat underwhelming. Nonetheless, Deary, who reached 1,000 career points Sunday, said the late-game experience could be a positive one for NU.

“It shows everyone what we need to do,” she said. “We finished the game out strong.”

Email: colepaxton2019@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @ckpaxton

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