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Women’s Basketball: Northwestern blows past rival Illinois

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Women’s Basketball: Northwestern blows past rival Illinois

Abi Scheid looks to make a pass. The junior forward scored a career-high 25 points Monday against Illinois.

Abi Scheid looks to make a pass. The junior forward scored a career-high 25 points Monday against Illinois.

Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Abi Scheid looks to make a pass. The junior forward scored a career-high 25 points Monday against Illinois.

Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Abi Scheid looks to make a pass. The junior forward scored a career-high 25 points Monday against Illinois.

Charlie Goldsmith, Sports Editor

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Women’s Basketball


After winning just four regular season conference games last year, Northwestern closed 2018 showing there’s more separation between the Wildcats and the bottom of the Big Ten this season.

NU (8-5, 1-1 Big Ten) handed Illinois (8-5, 0-2 Big Ten) its first conference loss of the season in Sunday’s 68-45 runaway, the Cats’ 7th consecutive victory against the in-state rival and the largest margin of victory against the Fighting Illini since 1990.

“We shared it pretty well today, and we’re starting to shoot it a little better,” coach Joe McKeown said. “In our league, everybody is so locked in defensively that you’ve got to make some plays.”

After scoring just 41 points in NU’s Big Ten opener against Rutgers last week, it only took a few possessions for McKeown to get his offense back into the free-flowing and up-tempo style he prefers. The Cats had four fast-break baskets in the first six minutes of the game, and junior forward Abi Scheid was more effective stretching the floor than she has been in any game in her career.

Scheid scored a career-high 25 points and shot 10-15 from the field while holding preseason first-team Big Ten forward Alex Wittinger to 7 points on 11 shots, and sophomore guard Lindsey Pulliam drew 13 free throws and added 17 points.

“Our offense was flowing,” said Scheid, who was 1-5 from the field in the 45-41 loss against the Scarlet Knights. “Everyone did their part and I got open.”

While the shots Scheid and Pulliam had missed the game before were falling, they were putting in one of their better defensive showings of the year as well. NU held Illinois over 5 minutes without a made field goal, and the Cats held a 27-7 lead just over halfway through the second quarter.

With the Fighting Illini shooting 31 percent from the field and having just 10 assisted baskets, McKeown said he saw a defensive identity he hopes carries the Cats through Big Ten play.

“I thought we came out today and played with a purpose defensively in the first half and I think that set the tone,” he said. “We contested pretty much most of their shots.”

In NU’s next four games, the team plays four of the best teams in the Big Ten this season, including Wednesday’s matchup against No. 15 Michigan State. The Cats lost 81-51 last January in East Lansing, but their strong start to conference play indicate it should be a closer game this time around.

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

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