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: Lau and Daley continue to stand out against ranked opponents, despite loss to No. 14 Indiana

Melannie+Daley+fights+traffic+to+get+to+the+rim.
Rose Carlson/The Daily Northwestern
Melannie Daley fights traffic to get to the rim.

In a season where relative success hasn’t been defined by marks in the win column, Northwestern’s fortunes have relied heavily on the potential of junior guard Melannie Daley and sophomore guard Caroline Lau.

When it comes to mid-season growth, the duo has flourished — putting their progress on full display in the team’s loss to No. 14 Indiana Tuesday. 

Against the backdrop of a team marked by the absence of a cohesive starting five, NU has experimented with ten distinct starting rotations — all of which have included Lau. 

Acknowledged as one of the top passers in the conference, Lau has honed her ball-handling skills, progressing from her three-start season as a freshman to her current role as a sophomore captain. 

She averages 5.5 assists per game — good for fourth in the Big Ten and 23rd in the nation — but has also made significant contributions in both rebounds and scoring. 

While some players struggle to match the performance of their formidable opponents, high-level competition seems to fuel both Daley and Lau to meet lofty expectations. 

Against four ranked Big Ten opponents this year, both players exceeded their averages in at least one statistical category in nearly every encounter.

In their most recent game against the Hoosiers, Lau tallied six rebounds and six assists, while Daley notched 24 points on a 12-of-18 shooting clip.

“We had to switch some things up, especially guarding Daley,” Indiana coach Teri Moren said postgame. “She was really good tonight.” 

The Hoosiers entered Tuesday’s contest fresh off a win against Caitlin Clark and Iowa, who they beat by almost the same margin with which they defeated Northwestern. 

Yet, Coach Moren’s acknowledgment of IU’s struggle to contain Daley speaks volumes about Daley’s potential to threaten dominant Big Ten opponents as she looks toward her senior season. 

Daley recorded some of her highest point totals of the season while facing Iowa and Indiana this year. In addition to her 24-point output Tuesday, she also posted 19 points against Iowa and 16 in the first matchup with the Hoosiers.

For much of the game against IU, Daley stayed on pace with Indiana forward Mackenzie Holmes, who ranks second in Big Ten scoring this year.

At halftime, both Holmes and Daley had scored 16 points for their respective teams, with Daley contributing more than half of NU’s total output.

Although she has not been included in the starting lineup for the past three games, Daley remains a potent source of energy off the bench — a role she has embraced all season.

Starting in 17 of 28 games this season, the Hastings, New York native has managed to surpass her scoring average of 12.8 points per game on six occasions while coming off the bench.

After missing most of last season due to injury, Daley is now showcasing her career-best performances in scoring, rebounds, and assists as she takes on a much more prominent role this season.

In addition to Daley and Lau, NU has worked freshman guard Casey Harter into the young backcourt this year. 

Harter started 16 games this season, but hasn’t been in the starting lineup since the team faced Iowa in January. Though she played just eight minutes against Indiana, she saw significant playing time in earlier matchups featuring ranked opponents.

She is anticipated to play a bigger role in three-point shooting next year without graduate-student guard Maggie Pina, a sharpshooter from beyond the arc. 

As the ‘Cats prepare to wrap up their second consecutive losing regular season at Rutgers this weekend, they have begun looking ahead to the future of their developing guards in Daley, Harter, and Lau. 

“All these games have given them great experience, and I think it’s gonna pay off next year,” McKeown said. 

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @AudreyPachuta

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