Women’s Basketball: Wildcats to open program’s next era against lowly Chicago State


Daily file photo by Allie Goulding

Abbie Wolf attempts a layup. The sophomore center and the Wildcats fell in a blowout loss to Minnesota on Thursday.

Jonah Dylan, Sports Editor

Women’s Basketball

It’s not exactly breaking news, but someone’s going to have to step up for Northwestern.

The Wildcats lost four senior starters, including former star forward Nia Coffey, who was taken fifth in the 2017 WNBA Draft. Coach Joe McKeown will get his first look at what a Coffey-less NU team looks like when the Cats open their season Friday at Chicago State.

NU will likely have to lean on quite a few freshmen after losing so many senior leaders.

“(They’re) probably going to be thrown into the fire at times,” McKeown said. “You’re going to lean on them, so they’ve got to be like sophomores sometimes, or juniors. All our players got to play a year up this year.”

Two of the freshmen are top-100 recruits, according to ESPN. Lindsey Pulliam is ranked 60th in her class, while Jordan Hamilton is ranked 95th. If the Cats are going to be competitive early, it’ll likely take major contributions from their highly-touted freshman guards.

A few veterans will also see their roles increased as McKeown searches for replacements for Coffey, Ashley Deary, Christen Inman and Lauren Douglas. McKeown said senior Lydia Rohde is expected to see a larger role, and that the guard likely has “the best work ethic of anybody that’s been in our program in years.”

“She’s one of the best student-athletes at Northwestern,” McKeown said. “She’s involved in everything, everyone on the team looks up to her, respects her on and off the court.”

NU shouldn’t have a difficult time starting its season on a positive note against the Cougars. Chicago State finished last season with a dreadful 0-29 record and is currently riding a 36-game losing streak. The Cougars also haven’t won more than six games in a season since 2010-11.

Senior center Oceana Hamilton, another veteran who will likely see more playing time, said she’s excited to help lead the team as it looks to open its season with a win. After averaging just 1.9 points per game in 9.6 minutes per game a season ago, Hamilton said she’s looking forward to getting an increased role in her senior season.

“Being here for three years, it’s been a good experience,” she said. “I’ve definitely looked to the seniors that graduated last year and I just feel definitely comfortable with the system now. I’m feeling I’m ready.”

Sophomore forward Abi Scheid is the Cats’ leading returning scorer, but she averaged just five points per game a season ago. Junior guard Amber Jamison, who averaged 4.9 points per game last year, could also see an expanded role.

Jordan Hamilton, who will make her collegiate debut Friday, said the Cats are excited to get the new season underway.

“We have emphases on every single practice, so I feel like throughout these past couple weeks it’s been very competitive and high energy,” she said. “Even though we are young and youthful, our upperclassmen are giving us so much knowledge to help us build up and get to the right speed.”

Cole Paxton contributed reporting.

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