Women’s Basketball: Northwestern hopes to even out record against Purdue


Daily file photo by Keshia Johnson

Jordan Hamilton does a shot fake. The freshman scored a career-high 22 points in the Wildcats’ victory over Wisconsin.

Cassidy Jackson, Reporter

Women’s Basketball

Northwestern is a third of the way into its Big Ten schedule and sitting at a pivotal crossroads.

The Wildcats (9-10, 2-3 Big Ten) have had an uneven season, but Thursday’s game at Purdue (12-7, 3-2) is what several players called an opportunity for NU to turn its year around.

Junior forward Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah said NU’s record does not demonstrate the work the team has been putting in on a daily basis, so the Cats are looking to prove themselves going into West Lafayette.

“Our record doesn’t reflect how much we really want to be a great team,” Kunaiyi-Akpanah said. “It’s not a winning record. As of now, we’re just taking it day by day and playing hard every game. … I feel like we’re underrated, so I think we just need to show that we’re some tough competition.”

Though the record isn’t what NU would hope for, coach Joe McKeown is not discouraged and said he sees potential in his team. McKeown also acknowledged that NU has faced multiple unexpected roadblocks with injuries to starting guards Jordan Hamilton, a freshman, and Lydia Rohde, a senior.

After missing three games, Hamilton is now back in the lineup and scored a career-high 22 points in Rohde’s absence to lead the team in a win over Wisconsin.

“Our biggest thing is just trying to get better every day, practicing with a purpose,” McKeown said. “I feel like our attitude is great. Our energy’s great. I really like this team.”

After coming off a successful non-conference season, the Cats have had mixed results during Big Ten play. NU, however, is coming into the game off a high note after the Wisconsin win. The Boilermakers also come into the game hot, having earned a big win against then-No. 18 Iowa last weekend.

Though the Cats and Purdue have comparable conference records, Hamilton said NU has an advantage over the Boilermakers: versatility.

“I feel like our ability to slow down the game, but also be able to keep up with fast-paced games … puts it more to our advantage, because they’re more of a strictly fast team,” Hamilton said. “When you get those sort of teams riled up, they tend to make mistakes.”

In order to get Purdue off its game, Hamilton said the Cats have to use their size to their advantage. According to Kunaiyi-Akpanah, the Boilermakers have skilled players, but what they have in skill they lack in size. NU has a better rebounding margin than Purdue this season; the Cats out-rebound opponents by 3.5 rebounds per game, while Purdue out-rebounds its opponents by less than one board per game.

As Thursday approaches, Kunaiyi-Akpanah said she feels the game against Purdue could turn the season around.

“Purdue is a tough team, they’ve got a lot of good players, but I think we can definitely go over there and have a break-out performance,” Kunaiyi-Akpanah said. “We haven’t really had a huge game this season yet. I think this could be one of the games where we find ourselves and be that team people expect us to be.”

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Twitter: @CassidyKJackson