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

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

The Daily Northwestern


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Women’s Basketball: Northwestern rallies back from 19-point deficit, defeats UIC in season-opening thriller

Senior+guard+Jasmine+McWilliams+and+junior+guard+Melannie+Daley+play+defense.+Daley+notched+a+career-high+25+points+in+Northwesterns+92-86+overtime+win+over+UIC+Thursday.
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Senior guard Jasmine McWilliams and junior guard Melannie Daley play defense. Daley notched a career-high 25 points in Northwestern’s 92-86 overtime win over UIC Thursday.

Despite facing a 19-point second-quarter deficit, Northwestern battled back and pulled off a 92-86 overtime victory against UIC Thursday night.

In what coach Joe McKeown described as a “tale of two halves,” the Wildcats (1-0, 0-0 Big Ten) distinguished the Flames (1-1, 0-0 Missouri Valley) after the visitors’ scorching second quarter stretch and put a double-digit halftime deficit firmly in the rearview.

“We got a lot to work on because you can’t put yourself in that hole,” McKeown said. “You’ve got to do a better job. Starting now. A lot of great things are happening.”

NU got off to a blazing start at the beginning of the first quarter, jumping out to a six-point advantage. However, the team’s hot shooting streak began to cool after it failed to convert open looks, and UIC capitalized on NU’s frequent mistakes. 

Once the second quarter began, the Flames piled on the points and the ‘Cats found themselves on the wrong end of an 18-0 run.

Eventually, NU went back to the locker room down 44-30 at the half. 

“Coach McKeown told us repeatedly, ‘you don’t have to win in the third quarter — just try to fight back,” senior forward Paige Mott said. “Nobody tried to be a hero. Everybody just played their game.” 

The ‘Cats seemed to clean up their quick and sloppy play, spreading the floor more and capitalizing on open opportunities at the third quarter’s outset. 

Junior forward Caileigh Walsh responded to every punch UIC threw, draining 3-pointers and getting to the rim to take advantage of timely and-one opportunities.

Although last season’s leading scorer fouled out late in the fourth quarter, Walsh compiled 19 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists in an all-around clinic.

Junior guard Melannie Daley and sophomore guard Caroline Lau spearheaded NU’s third quarter comeback, combining for 21 of the team’s 27 points and vaulting the ‘Cats into a 57-52 advantage. 

After missing most of last year’s season due to an injury, Daley proved her importance to the team during the season opener, notching an 11-point third quarter and leading all scorers with a career-high 25 points.  

“We have a chip on our shoulder — last year was rough,” Daley said. “We have literally nothing to lose, so we’re fighting for everything.” 

Running the offense, Lau shook off first half cobwebs to notch 16 points and a career-high 15 assists — the highest assist mark in the McKeown era.   

Both teams traded fourth-quarter scores, but the Flames and the ‘Cats maintained a neck-and-neck race to the final buzzer.

Mott proved her immense worth for NU down the stretch, sealing big boards and vital points in the paint. She grabbed a career-high 20 rebounds in the process.

Ultimately, the back-and-forth contest couldn’t be decided in four quarters, as Lau’s last-ditch 3-point effort rimmed out in the final seconds of regulation.

The ‘Cats gained an early upper hand in overtime, leading by as many as eight points. McKeown’s squad eventually saw out a 92-86 victory after a hard fought battle. 

 “They never gave up tonight when things weren’t going well,” said McKeown, who tied the program’s wins record (251) Thursday. “They listened in from the standpoint of don’t try to get it all back in one play. I think that’s a great sign for us.” 

NU now looks forward to its next matchup against Omaha at Welsh-Ryan Arena on Sunday. 

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @Gabriella_Egozi

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