Rapid Recap: Northwestern 76, Niagara 38


Angeli Mittal/ Daily Senior Staffer

Graduate guard Sydney Wood drives to the basket through contact. The Maryland native tied her career high with 19 points.

Jake Epstein, Reporter

Northwestern (3-2, 0-0 Big Ten) picked up its second consecutive victory after a 76-38 win over Niagara (1-3, 0-0 Metro Atlantic) at home. 

The Wildcats caught fire from the opening tip. Graduate forward Courtney Shaw opened up the scoring with four unanswered points before the Purple Eagles responded with two of their own. 

In an efficient first ten minutes, NU went 9-for-18 from the field and led 20-7 after one quarter.

Coach Joe McKeown’s squad carried its momentum into the second quarter, as Niagara proved unable to compete with the Cats’ size and speed. Despite struggling with 13 first half turnovers , including nine in the second quarter alone, NU led 38-16 at halftime.

The Cats didn’t let the intermission cool their hot shooting, and tallied a season-high 27 points in the third quarter. While NU’s turnover struggles continued, the Purple Eagles failed to contain the Cats. Kaylah Rainey ran the point to perfection in the period, and her career-high nine assists helped NU build a 65-30 lead heading into the final quarter.

The final ten minutes gave McKeown an opportunity to rotate his squad, and the Cats maintained control until the contest’s conclusion.

Here are three takeaways from NU’s home victory over Niagara.


  • Cats frustrate Purple Eagles early

After Niagara’s matchup against Cleveland State was postponed last week due to extreme snowy conditions, the Purple Eagles faced the NU Blizzard defense Tuesday. 

McKeown’s defensive system forced Niagara into an abysmal 2-for-15 shooting in the first quarter, and the Purple Eagles tallied seven turnovers in the first ten minutes. 

Niagara saw little improvement in the second quarter, converting on just 3-17 field goals in the period. The Cats did not allow shooters any open looks, and the Purple Eagles had no way of generating any source of offense. 

Through twenty minutes of play, NU held its opponent to just five made field goals on a 15.2% clip. 

  • Turnover-filled second quarter a cause for concern

The Cats turned the ball over four times in the first period, which put them on pace to surpass McKeown’s cap of “10 turnovers or less” in a matchup.

In a mistake-ridden second quarter, NU gave away possession nine times, but the Niagara offense failed to capitalize on its opponents miscues. 

While their opponents managed only seven points off nine turnovers in the second quarter, the Cats cannot give the ball away at such an alarming rate and expect to compete come conference play next month.

  • Graduate stars, Wood and Shaw, too much to handle

The two Maryland natives, who each opted to return to Evanston for a fifth season, controlled Tuesday’s action.

Shaw tallied a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Her presence on the low block was especially impressive, and she also shot an efficient 3-for-4 from the free throw line. 

Her teammate Wood led all scorers with 19 points and converted 8-for-12 shots from the field. 

An efficient night from its veterans gave NU the advantage it needed to comfortably defeat the Purple Eagles at home, and McKeown will certainly lean on his experienced players as the season continues.

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