Women’s Basketball: Coffey’s dominant performance carries Northwestern to win over Virginia

Cole Paxton, Assistant Sports Editor

Women’s Basketball

Nia Coffey had a respectable, but not stirring, 9 points and six rebounds at halftime. Then she went off.

The senior forward scored 11 of her game-high 29 points in the third quarter, bringing Northwestern back from an 18-point deficit to help push the Wildcats (6-1) to a 69-60 win over Virginia (5-2) on Thursday night at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

“She got us big rebounds, got us out in transition a little bit,” coach Joe McKeown said of Coffey’s second-half takeover. “She’d score inside-out, hit a big jumper. She really scored around the basket, got inside, got to the foul line.

Coffey stuffed every column of the stat sheet, corralling 14 rebounds to record a double-double and adding four assists, three steals and two blocks in 38 minutes. She shot an efficient 9-of-15 from the field and went 10-of-12 at the free-throw line.

The Minneapolis native, who earlier this week was named to preseason watch lists for the Naismith Award and Wade Trophy, scored in double-figures for the 55th consecutive game and notched her fourth double-double of the season.

“I was just taking my open opportunities and feeding off my teammates,” Coffey said. “They did a good job of hitting me when I was open.”

In one stretch spanning the third and fourth quarters, Coffey scored 12 straight points to turn a 6-point deficit into a 6-point advantage. She did her damage in a variety of ways, hitting three layups, a jumper and four free throws.

“When a player gets hot, it’s hard not to get her the ball,” senior guard Christen Inman said. “We did a really good job of getting her in open spots and putting her in positions to do what she does best.”

She also played a big role defensively, drawing charge calls on two consecutive possessions with under two minutes to play to help close out the game.

It was just the latest stunning performance from Coffey, who missed two games in November with an injury. Coffey scored 26 points to lead NU to an upset win over then-No. 16 Florida last Friday, then scored 12 of the Cats’ first 14 points Sunday against Evansville.

Though she had an impressive first three years in Evanston, McKeown said Coffey has still found ways to improve in her senior season.

“She just is a lot more patient, letting things come to her at times, but staying aggressive,” McKeown said. “She’s finishing around the basket. She’s just making everything.”

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