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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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Rapid Recap: No. 16 Notre Dame 110, Northwestern 52

Daily file photo by Elena Lu
Northwestern huddles together before a game. The Wildcats fell 110-52 on the road at No. 16 Notre Dame Wednesday.

In its biggest challenge of the season, Northwestern lost handedly to No. 16 Notre Dame Wednesday in a 110-52 defeat. 

The Wildcats (2-1, 0-0 Big Ten) got out to an 8-0 lead capped by junior guard Hailey Weaver’s fast-break layup, forcing the Fighting Irish (2-1, 0-0 ACC) to take an early timeout just over two minutes within tipoff.

But Notre Dame immediately responded with a 15-0 run of its own, propelled by nine points from freshman guard Hannah Hidalgo, who entered Wednesday averaging 28.5 points and 7.5 steals per game.

The first quarter ended with the Fighting Irish up 24-16 having shot at a 9-of-14 clip, including 3-of-5 from behind the arc.

The next 10 minutes proved to be more of the same as Notre Dame continued its superb play. The hosts outscored NU by 22 over the second quarter and held the visitors to a mere 4-of-14 shooting from the field.

The Fighting Irish ended the first half on a 13-0 run to extend their lead to 56-26 entering halftime. The second half presented its own set of challenges for the ‘Cats as foul trouble forced coach Joe McKeown to alter his lineups. 

Senior forward Paige Mott fouled out with 2:26 left in the third quarter, having played only 13 minutes total. Junior forward Caileigh Walsh also was forced to sit having picked up her fourth personal foul.

Despite such obstacles, the ‘Cats went 3-of-3 from 3-point range in the third quarter, refusing to give up even against a stifling Notre Dame defense. By the start of the fourth, NU found itself down 79-42.

With starters subbing out by the middle of the fourth quarter, the remainder of the game served as valuable playing time for some of McKeown’s younger players.

Only two ‘Cats — junior guards Melannie Daley and Weaver — finished in double figures, both with 11 points. Mott and Walsh, both of whom struggled with fouls throughout the night, only managed to tally two and three points, respectively.

Here are three takeaways from NU’s loss to Notre Dame:

1. NU’s aggressive start despite early foul trouble

The ‘Cats came out scorching and looked like the better team over the first few minutes.

With baskets from four different players to begin the game, NU played clean basketball to surprise the home crowd. 

Even when Notre Dame took the lead soon after, the ‘Cats remained composed in the face of adversity.

With starting forwards Walsh and Mott both receiving multiple personal fouls early, junior forward Mercy Ademusayo stepped up in their stead, securing three offensive rebounds in her first six minutes of play.

2. Notre Dame runs away with it and doesn’t look back

Fresh off a 47-point victory over NJIT three days prior, the Fighting Irish probably didn’t expect to go down eight points within the first few minutes of Wednesday’s clash.

But last year’s ACC regular season champion didn’t disappoint in its home opener and immediately countered to take a 30-point lead by the half.

Notre Dame enjoyed yet another excellent performance from Hidalgo — the No. 5 recruit in the 2023 class and reigning ACC Rookie of the Week — who put up 21 points on 9-of-12 shooting. Guard Sonia Citron also contributed 23 points before leaving the game in the third quarter with an injury.

The ‘Cats couldn’t seem to find an answer for a Notre Dame squad that shot 55.3% from the field and 45% from deep.

3. First major test for McKeown’s new squad

To say that Notre Dame is NU’s biggest challenge in the early season would be an understatement. Going from defeating Omaha, which plays in the Summit League, to the Fighting Irish, who advanced to the Sweet Sixteen last season, is about as big of a step up as a team can take.

It’s never easy to bounce back after an opponent more than doubled your score, but it’s still early in the season for McKeown’s squad to learn from this game. 

Whether it’s dealing with foul trouble, a full-court press or hot perimeter shooters, there’s a lot the ‘Cats can glean from Wednesday.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @lucaskim_15

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