Women’s Basketball: Wildcats take down Tennessee-Martin, move to 3-0


Daily file photo by Keshia Johnson

Byrdy Galernik dribbles the ball. The sophomore guard and the Wildcats won at UT-Martin on Saturday.

Joseph Wilkinson, Assistant Sports Editor

Women’s Basketball

It wasn’t supposed to go like this. Last year, Northwestern cruised to an 82-59 win over Tennessee-Martin. This year, the Wildcats and Skyhawks were knotted at 50 with just over nine minutes remaining.

Then senior guard Lydia Rohde drilled a 3-pointer, freshman guard Jordan Hamilton splashed another and NU (3-0) pulled out to a 6-point lead it didn’t relinquish, eventually closing out a 71-63 victory Saturday.

“My teammates just found me the ball and created a lot of opportunities,” Rohde said. “That’s why it went so well.”

Rohde made the most of those opportunities, pouring in a career-high 22 points on 7-of-11 shooting. The senior did most of her damage from behind the arc, shooting 6-of-10 from deep.

She wasn’t the only setting career-highs on the day, as sophomore forward Abi Scheid added 21 points, her own personal best. Scheid shot 9-of-13 in the game and pulled down eight rebounds.

“I had sort of a hot hand, and same with Lydia, so they were smart in crunch time in just getting us the ball,” Scheid said. “They were getting us open shots by them cutting and screening for us. All the success is due to my teammates.”

Hamilton played a crucial role in that success, dishing out seven assists and handling point guard duties for much of the game. She played 38 minutes, while backup sophomore guard Byrdy Galernik played 12 across multiple positions.

At times, however, the freshman looked shaky, committing a team-high five turnovers including three under pressure in the fourth quarter.

After building a 63-53 lead with just over three minutes to go, NU committed four turnovers in the next two minutes, and UT-Martin cut the lead to 67-63 with just over 30 seconds remaining. Clutch free throws from Hamilton and fellow freshman guard Lindsey Pulliam helped seal the Cats’ victory.

“They’re freshmen, but they’re not freshmen, you know,” coach Joe McKeown said. “Their poise, their experience and their mental toughness is a little bit beyond their years. They’re fearless, and that’s how you want them to be.”

Despite that poise, the team is still struggling with turnovers. Against relatively weak competition, NU is committing 20.3 turnovers per game. Following the departure of four seniors, that number is up almost six per game from last season.

The two freshman guards, each starting and playing more than 30 minutes per game, have been the biggest culprits so far, combining for 23 of the team’s 61 turnovers.

Even so, the Cats still sit at 3-0 headed into a difficult stretch in which they play four games in five days.

“It’s good to be 3-0 and to be able to teach from ahead,” McKeown said. “We’ve got a really tough nonconference schedule. Between now and when we start after Christmas in the Big Ten, it’s a learning experience. We’re really young, but this is a fun team. … They play hard for each other.”

Email: josephwilkinson2019@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @joe_f_wilkinson