The Daily Northwestern

Women’s Basketball: Northwestern opens strong against No.14 Maryland

Bryana Hopkins goes up for a layup. The sophomore forward had 5 points against Maryland.

Bryana Hopkins goes up for a layup. The sophomore forward had 5 points against Maryland.

Keshia Johnson/Daily Senior Staffer

Keshia Johnson/Daily Senior Staffer

Bryana Hopkins goes up for a layup. The sophomore forward had 5 points against Maryland.

Cassidy Jackson, Reporter

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Women’s Basketball

On its temporary home court at Beardsley Gym on Thursday, it looked like Northwestern would get off to another slow start. Less than a minute into the first quarter against No. 14 Maryland, the Wildcats were 0-for-4 from the field. But sophomore forward center Abi Scheid and freshman guard Jordan Hamilton turned the first quarter around for the Cats and put them in the lead 6-4 three minutes in and set the tone early, indicating this game may be different.

Junior forward Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah put up 5 points in the opening period, making her the second-leading scorer in the quarter behind Scheid, who had 7. Kunaiyi-Akpanah said the team’s opening tone contrasted with many of its performances this season, and kept NU in the eventual 69-65 loss to the Terrapins until the final moments.

“We tried to come out strong early because we have a recurring theme of coming out soft,” Kunaiyi-Akpanah. “It seems like when we get a hit we have to dig out of our hole.”

When NU travelled Sunday to Wisconsin, which sits one notch above the bottom of the Big Ten, the Cats came out weak and eventually paid for it.

By the end of the first quarter, the team was down 16-7. NU fell to the Badgers 58-46, but a stronger start could have made the difference for the Cats.

By the end of the first quarter on Thursday, however, the Cats (9-13, 2-6 Big Ten) had put up 23 points, just a basket shy of their season-best 25 points in a period. The team slowed down on offense in the second, putting up their lowest-scoring quarter of the night with 10 points. But that coincided with a strong defensive effort, as NU managed to hold the Terrapins, (18-3, 7-1) to 15 points.

Freshman guard Lindsay Pulliam, the team’s overall lead scorer with 19 points, said the team came out with a confidence she believes caught Maryland off guard.

“I thought it was a hard-fought game,” Pulliam said. “We played with confidence, and we acted as if we could beat them. I think they didn’t expect us to do that.”

The Cats carried that confidence all the way into the fourth quarter. Within two minutes, Pulliam scored twice, closing the gap and tying the game for the first time since halfway through the second quarter.

Coach Joe McKeown said though the final outcome wasn’t what he would have wished for, NU handled itself well in a game where they were tested both physically and mentally.

“I’m really proud of our team. It’s probably … the hardest played game, physically, that we’ve played all year,” McKeown said. “We had the crowd going, our defense was locked in… we just had opportunities we didn’t convert.”

Twitter: @CassidyKJackson