Women’s Basketball: Joe McKeown reaches milestone as Northwestern wins West Palm Invitational


(Daily file photo by Katie Pach). Joe McKeown paces the sidelines. He won his 700th career game Friday.

Charlie Goldsmith, Reporter

Head coach Joe McKeown and Northwestern couldn’t be denied from making history or making a statement this weekend By Saturday, McKeown won his 700th career game and the Wildcats easily swept their two games at the West Palm Invitational.

NU (10-1) beat East Carolina (4-8), 64-45, on Friday for McKeown’s milestone win, and one day later the Cats followed that with a 79-59 victory over Xavier (1-10).

Neither game was ever particularly close. NU led 20-5 against the Pirates at the end of the first quarter Friday, and the Cats were up by as many as 33 points in the fourth. In one of NU’s best defensive performances of the season, East Carolina shot just 32 percent from the field and 25 percent from the three point line.

The Cats weren’t as dynamic offensively as they were Monday, where they hung 45 first half points on UT Arlington. But the offense did enough Friday to blowout the Pirates. Junior guard Lindsey Pulliam led the team with 13 points, and junior guard Jordan Hamilton added 12 points off the bench to lead the offense.

The trouble-free victory took the head coach across the 700 win threshold.

“It’s an honor to be in this position. To coach at Northwestern, the character of the players that I have here, the staff, what we’re all about, it makes it even more special,” McKeown said in a statement. “I’m really, really fortunate to have coached so many great players. At New Mexico State and then for 19 years at George Washington — incredible families and people.”

Despite having less than 24 hours of rest between games, the Cats’ offense found its rhythm in the second game of the West Palm Invitational, this time relying on their offense. In Saturday’s win over the Musketeers, NU shot almost 50 percent from the field and made nine of its 15 shots from beyond the three-point line. Led by Pulliam’s 21 points and sophomore guard Veronica Burton’s 18 points, the Cats tied their best scoring output of the regular season.

Wrapping up the non-conference schedule in dominant fashion, NU now has seven days off before Big Ten play begins at Illinois on Dec. 28. The Cats return to Welsh-Ryan Arena to face Maryland on Dec. 31, when McKeown is expected to be recognized for becoming the 23rd coach to win 700 times.

“You could do this a long time, and you have to be a little lucky. I think I’ve been really fortunate,” McKeown said. “I will say this. My wife and my family have been with me the whole way… We’re really blessed to have this great family, this great family of people that I get to coach.”

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