Women’s Basketball: Northwestern holds off Indiana for emotional 80-67 win


Allie Goulding/The Daily Northwestern

Christen Inman handles the ball. The senior guard scored 13 points in Saturday’s win.

Cole Paxton, Assistant Sports Editor

Women’s Basketball

After a trying week marked by tragedy and sadness, Northwestern returned to the court Saturday. It didn’t do so meekly.

In the team’s first game since the death of sophomore guard Jordan Hankins on Monday, senior guard Ashley Deary scored 18 points and senior forward Nia Coffey tallied 14 points and 14 rebounds, as the Wildcats (14-4, 3-2 Big Ten) earned an emotional 80-67 home win over Indiana (12-6, 2-3).

The lower bowl of Welsh-Ryan Arena was packed with 2,482 fans, complete with filled student sections awash in white shirts honoring Hankins, whom the Cats remembered with a moment of silence before tipoff. NU players and coaches wore shooting shirts with Hankins’ name, and sophomore guard Amber Jamison wore Hankins’ No. 5 jersey in her first career start. Jamison scored 13 points.

“I’m proud to be their coach,” Joe McKeown said. “It took great courage for our team to play that game. … They stayed together and tried to support and honor Jordan. That’s really what we’re trying to do.”

Despite playing for the first time in a week after Wednesday’s game at Minnesota was postponed, the Cats looked sharp from the outset. Coffey hit a jumper on the opening possession, Deary followed with a layup shortly thereafter, and a 12-2 run to close the quarter gave NU an early 11-point edge. Deary punctuated the run with a buzzer-beating layup, then pointed a finger to the sky.

“We all just wanted to embody her spirit,” Deary said of Hankins. “I just wanted to be aggressive like she would.”

The Cats’ hot start played a role in the early edge, but NU also took advantage of Indiana’s woeful shooting performance. The Hoosiers shot just 25 percent from the floor in the first half and made only one field goal in the first seven minutes of the second quarter.

Indiana guard Tyra Buss, the Big Ten’s fourth leading scorer entering Saturday, scored 14 points on an inefficient 4-of-17 shooting. Forward Amanda Cahill and center Jenn Anderson paced the visitors with 17 points apiece.

“They hurried us, made us play a little bit faster,” Indiana coach Teri Moren said. “We just took some shots that we don’t normally try to take.”

The Hoosiers made several runs in the second half and tied the game at one point, but an 8-0 push late in the third quarter rebuilt the Cats’ 11-point edge. In the fourth quarter, NU grew its advantage to as much as 14 and maintained its lead down the stretch, finishing with a 13-point victory.

McKeown said he believed the raucous crowd helped his team pull out the victory.

“It was incredible. Not just our student-athletes, but the people that have supported us since I’ve been here and how much they care about our players,” he said. “I’m sure that played into the score today. That was probably worth 10 points.”

The win snapped a two-game skid for the Cats, who hadn’t won since Dec. 31. It also pushed NU above the Hoosiers in the muddled middle of the Big Ten, and gives the Cats a potential resume-building win against a fellow NCAA Tournament contender.

With the victory, NU began a three-game stretch against relatively even foes, which continues Tuesday against Michigan State. On Saturday, the focus was entirely on Hankins’ memory.

“Being on the court and … just knowing how much (Jordan) loved basketball and being on the court and having fun together was a tribute to her,” senior guard Christen Inman said. “Thinking about it that way has helped us get back on the court together and play.”

This story was updated at 6:03 with quotes.

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