Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Women’s Basketball: Northwestern victorious against Lewis in exhibition game

Sophomore+guard+Caroline+Lau+throws+a+bounce+pass+to+junior+guard+Melannie+Daley+in+Northwestern%E2%80%99s+80-54+exhibition+win+over+Lewis.
Delilah Brumer/The Daily Northwestern
Sophomore guard Caroline Lau throws a bounce pass to junior guard Melannie Daley in Northwestern’s 80-54 exhibition win over Lewis.

Northwestern opened its season with an 80-54 victory over Division II Lewis in an exhibition Thursday.

With the departure of two starters from last year’s squad, junior guard Melannie Daley is expected to become instrumental to the Wildcats’ offense this season. The 5-foot-11 New York native tallied 18 points, a 13-point increase from her average of 4.6 points in nine games last season. 

Lewis struck early, sinking a 3-pointer just 30 seconds into the game. Initially neck and neck, NU gained the lead with 6:30 left in the first quarter and held it for the rest of the game. 

Entering the half with an 11-point advantage, the ’Cats broke things open in the third quarter, outscoring the Flyers 21-8. 

“We tried to make great passes instead of easy plays, so that was a big topic at halftime,” coach Joe McKeown said. 

The defense held the Flyers to just eight points in the second quarter and 10 points in the third, which McKeown identified as a bright spot in the team’s first showing. 

Daley dominated with 10 points in the first half before briefly heading to the locker room in the third quarter with what appeared to be a lower body injury. She returned to the court with just under two minutes left in the third. 

Northwestern went on a 10-0 run to start the fourth quarter and led by 32 points with 7:30 remaining. The Flyers narrowed the margin before the game was over, but NU still cruised to a 26-point win.

The team shot 33% from beyond the arc with 15 3-point attempts. Last year, the ’Cats averaged 10.6 attempts from deep per game, hitting a Big Ten-low 26.7% of their 3-pointers, making improving their 3-point game one of their offseason primary goals. 

NU also had 19 assists in Thursday’s exhibition — six of which came from sophomore guard Caroline Lau.

As a role player last year, Lau had 78 assists — the most from any freshman since Veronica Burton in 2018. Lau has ascended the team’s ranks, becoming a captain and a member of the starting rotation this season. 

Freshmen forward Crystal Wang and guard Casey Harter were both on the court to end the game — a testament to McKeown’s promise of building the program from the ground up –– rather than relying on the transfer portal. 

However, NU did gain one transfer in the offseason: Maggie Pina. A graduate transfer who scored 939 points during her collegiate career at Boston University, Pina is expected to help fill last year’s void in shooting outside the paint. 

“She’s a great shooter but she also brings that leadership,” senior guard Jasmine McWilliams. “She’s not a captain, but she talks all the time and she works with our younger players.”

Pina, who logged 19 minutes Thursday, is expected to play a more integral role in the offense as the ’Cats work out some of their kinks in the coming weeks.

Following Thursday’s win, NU goes straight to preparing for its season-opener against UIC on Nov. 9. 

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @AudreyPachuta

Related Stories:

Rapid Recap: Northwestern 80, Lewis 54

Women’s Basketball: McKeown, players talk upcoming season at WNUR ‘Fired Up’ event

Women’s Basketball Notebook: McKeown, Mott and Walsh discuss preseason expectations and more at Big Ten Media Day

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