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Women’s Basketball: With a different look, Wildcats prepared to face No. 14 Maryland

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Women’s Basketball: With a different look, Wildcats prepared to face No. 14 Maryland

Lindsey Pulliam pulls up for a jump-shot. The freshman guard leads Northwestern in scoring with an average of 14 points per game.

Lindsey Pulliam pulls up for a jump-shot. The freshman guard leads Northwestern in scoring with an average of 14 points per game.

Daily file photo by Keisha Johnson

Lindsey Pulliam pulls up for a jump-shot. The freshman guard leads Northwestern in scoring with an average of 14 points per game.

Daily file photo by Keisha Johnson

Daily file photo by Keisha Johnson

Lindsey Pulliam pulls up for a jump-shot. The freshman guard leads Northwestern in scoring with an average of 14 points per game.

Charlie Goldsmith, Assistant Sports Editor

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Women’s Basketball


Bryana Hopkins’ strongest quality — which coach Joe McKeown said he considered before naming the sparingly-used forward Northwestern’s fifth starter — is her patience.

Playing in the Big Ten brings one talented opponent after the next, but perhaps none of them are more daunting than first-place Maryland. With such a difficult opponent ahead, patience is the quality McKeown said NU (9-12, 2-5 Big Ten) needs to pull off the upset against the Terrapins (17-3, 6-1 Big Ten).

It took 13 games and an injury to the Cats’ senior captain, Lydia Rohde, for Hopkins to get her first opportunity with the starting five in their first Big Ten game in December. The sophomore forward, who played just 26 total minutes last season, was not surprised by McKeown’s selection for her to replace Rohde, and Hopkins is valuing this opportunity.

“It’s definitely a lot of fun compared to last year,” she said. “I’m definitely playing a lot more and it’s just a good time being able to have such a big role on this team.”

While she has the lowest scoring average of the Cats’ five starters, Hopkins frequently guarded the opponent’s best perimeter threat in the six games she has started. In the dramatic 69-60 win over Wisconsin, she scored five points in the last five minutes, and against Purdue, she helped hold senior guard Andreona Keys to three points five days after she scored 34.

McKeown said Hopkins’ defense and basketball IQ have been as important as Lindsey Pulliam’s scoring in stabilizing NU’s rotation. Both Hopkins and Pulliam did not begin the season as starters, but after Rohde’s injury and Amber Jamison’s departure from the program, they’ve become linchpins for the Cats.

“They’re both doing a good job in different circumstances this year,” McKeown said. “They earned that right regardless of who was here, and now they’re both getting thrown into the fire in a lot of different ways and I think they’ve responded well.”

But No. 14 Maryland will be the highest ranked team Pulliam and Hopkins have played against in their careers. The Terrapins have the 11th best defensive rating in the country and hold their opponents to just a 37.2 shooting percentage. With 32 points and 7 rebounds from sophomore guard Kaila Charles, Maryland beat No. 8 Ohio State 99-69 on Monday.

The Terrapins held two-time Big Ten player of the year Kelsey Mitchell to just 15 points, and they will likely put that same emphasis on limiting Pulliam, who leads all Big Ten freshmen with 14 points per game.

But when Maryland pressures NU players who haven’t seen as formidable an opponent in their careers, Hopkins said the Cats will know how to react.

“We have a plan,” she said. “We’re really working on our defense and we learned from the game against Wisconsin. We honestly think we can play with heart and play our game and the outcome will come through that.”

Email: charliegoldsmith2021@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: 2021_Charlie

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