Women’s Basketball: Northwestern aims to extend win streak, hits the road to face Penn State Thursday


Angeli Mittal/Daily Senior Staffer

unior forward Paige Mott looks to pass the ball to a teammate. Mott will be a central offensive threat as Northwestern aims to extend its win streak to three Thursday.

Skye Swann, Sports Editor

While Northwestern has been on a hot streak this past week, the squad aims to continue its success on the road as it battles Penn State Thursday at the Bryce Jordan Center.

The Wildcats (8-13, 1-9 Big Ten) desperately need to turn the corner as they enter the second stretch of the season. After a solid 2022 campaign — courtesy of players’ Veronica Burton, redshirt senior guard Sydney Wood and redshirt sophomore forward Courtney Shaw — NU pushed boundaries in the conference and separated themselves from other programs in the league. However, with the loss of Burton, the Cats struggled to find a consistent offensive rhythm on the floor this winter.

At the top of the year, coach Joe McKeown’s group went on an eight game losing streak before recording their first win over Chicago State last Wednesday. Junior forward Paige Mott, sophomore forward Caileigh Walsh and freshman guard Caroline Lau were the main facilitators of NU’s offense, whether they were working inside the post or hitting triples along the perimeter. 

Mott fueled this success in the next game against Wisconsin where she tallied a career-high 23 points. In her third year, Mott has flourished into her own on the floor, demanding attention from opponents and assisting her teammates inside the paint. As the Cats entered the season seeking a replacement for Burton’s absence on the court, Mott stepped up and delivered the double digit numbers NU needed to put away those wins. 

Lau is another player who has transcended into her own on the floor for the Cats. Though she is only a freshman, the guard’s agility and quickness on the court works to McKeown’s advantage to make those buzzer-beating shots before the end of a quarter. Her season-high of 20 points against the Cougars is evident that her offensive intelligence can be a real asset for the team Thursday.

Despite NU’s lack of size among the group, the Cats must use height to their advantage against the Lady Lions to seize early scoring opportunities. If the squad gets on the scoreboard first and maintains valuable possessions on the court, it is possible to come out of Happy Valley victorious. Mott, Walsh and Lau’s offensive dominance combined with Wood and Shaw’s defensive pressure could be the secret ingredients to NU turning their losing season around.

Ahead of Thursday, the Cats must ensure they silence Penn State senior guard Makenna Marisa and freshman guard Shay Ciezki. Marisa and Ciezki are the Lady Lions’ top two scorers this season: with 22 points each and averages of 18.4 and 11.1 points per game, respectively, NU’s blizzard zone defense must be at its A-game.

Thursday evening’s conference matchup is the true test on where NU stands in the Big Ten Conference as we dive deeper into the final stretch before the Big Ten Tournament and the NCAA Tournament.

The Cats are aiming to have one of the, arguably, greatest comebacks of the conference.

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