Women’s basketball: Defensive-minded Northwestern hammers Loyola-Maryland in season opener


Daily file photo by Joshua Hoffman

Lindsey Pulliam celebrates. The junior guard scored 25 points in the Cats’ opening game.

Patrick Andres, Reporter

Women’s Basketball

With 1:27 left in the first half Sunday, Abi Scheid made a defensive play that asserted once and for all the nature of Northwestern’s season-opener.

The senior forward chased down Loyola-Maryland guard Ava Therien and emphatically swatted away a layup that would have brought the Greyhounds within single digits, delighting the Welsh-Ryan Arena crowd and encapsulating the defensive nature of the contest.

“It was a fast break. I saw it coming, I tried to stop her, but she went around me,” Scheid said. “I wasn’t just about to let that happen.”

After that, Loyola-Maryland (0-2) was never again a threat to the Wildcats (1-0), who cruised to a 67-46 win over the Greyhounds to start the 2019-20 campaign.

Junior guard Lindsey Pulliam led all scorers with 25 points, including a trio of 3-pointers while going 6-for-6 from free-throw line. She did miss her first five shots from the field, but recovered to finish 8 of 21 on the day.

“Keep shooting,” Pulliam said of her mentality early on. “Eventually it’s gonna go in. It’s the first game, so it’s gonna be a little rough coming in.”

She added her initial 3-pointer halfway through the first “felt good,” expressing relief to finally see one of her shots fall.

Neither team could truly find their groove from the field, with NU’s 46.2 percent output in the third quarter serving as the best shooting mark from either team in any quarter.

The Greyhounds shot 31.5 percent to the Cats’ 34.4 percent — a difference coach Joe McKeown credited to NU’s size. Loyola has just one player 6-foot-1 or taller compared to three for the Cats.

“Just trying to outsmart them (on defense) is always our main goal,” Scheid said. “We came into the game with a goal of holding them to 50 points or under. We focused on containing them from the three-point line.”

Senior center Abbie Wolf also “had a day” according to McKeown, accumulating 14 points and six rebounds. Sophomore guard Veronica Burton also contributed six points, six boards and four steals.

Pulliam — is from Silver Springs, Maryland, which is a little over 30 miles from Baltimore where Loyola-Maryland is located. As a result, she had faced against a few of her opponents previously.

“I played AAU with Delaney [Connolly], and I played against Alexis Gray a lot in high school as well,” Pulliam said. “There were some familiar faces, and it was cool to be able to play against them. But obviously, you gotta do what you gotta do.”

NU’s focus now turns toward a tough two-game stretch that will see the Cats clash with Marquette, an NCAA Tournament team in 2019, and an always stout Duke squad. Both games are on the road. NU will not return to Evanston until November 21 against Valparaiso.

“We’re playing at Marquette and at Duke in the same week. It’ll be fun, college basketball, we’re starting so early now, you can’t get too high or low,” McKeown said. “The players, they understand we’re keeping score… they’ll have a little chip on their shoulder.”

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