Heading into Monday’s game against Chicago State at Welsh-Ryan Arena, Northwestern was in need of a victory.
After starting the campaign with five straight wins, the Wildcats had slumped to three straight double-digit losses against Pittsburgh, DePaul and Marquette as the team struggled to hit shots.
Yet, the Cougars were even more desperate for a victory. The Cougars have not won a game since Feb. 8 when they beat Utah Valley, and before that win, they had not claimed victory in over two years.
In front of 5,799 fans, it was NU’s (6-3) losing streak the came to an end with a commanding 97-35 victory over hapless Chicago State (0-9), having the game in hand almost immediately after the opening jump.
“I think our potential is there and I think our players, they just want to play,” coach Joe McKeown said.
Less than three minutes into the game, the Cats had already jumped out to a 10-point lead. While the Cougars managed to cut the lead to three points a few minutes later, NU never let go of the lead or lose control of the game. By the end of the period, the Cats were up 25-10.
The second quarter was even better for NU. The Cats had 19 fastbreak points and ended the second quarter on a 20-0 run to take a 54-18 lead at the break. The Cougars’ had 18 turnovers in the half, which is the same amount of points they scored in the first 20 minutes.
NU continued its run of dominant play in the third quarter. Defensively, the Cats held the Cougars to only six points on 20 percent shooting. On offense, NU operated like clockwork, scoring 16 points in the paint and cleaned up on the glass.
With the game already secure well before the fourth, the Cats unloaded their bench. For the first time all season, all 14 players were active for the game. However, sophomore guard Jordan Hamilton, who was injured last week against Marquette, did not play.
Twelve of the 13 players who stepped onto the hardwood of Welsh-Ryan found the bottom of the net. This included freshman guard Lauryn Satterwhite, who scored her first career basket in her first career game after missing all of last season and the beginning of this year due to injury.
“It is everything I have ever wanted. It’s like my dreams came true,” Satterwhite said. “It’s a blessing being out there with my teammates, and being able to come out with the win is even better.”
Freshman forward Courtney Shaw also scored her first career point during the game.
Six players scored in double figures for the Cats. Sophomore guard Lindsey Pulliam climbed out of her shooting slump with a 50 percent day from the field and 14 points. Freshman guard Sydney Wood tied Pulliam for the game-high with 14 points in her first start of the season. Freshman guard Veronica Burton, junior forward Amber Jamison, senior forward Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah and junior center Abbie Wolf all also scored in double digits.
As a whole, NU shot 52.9 percent from the field and went to the free-throw line 30 times. The Cats dominated the paint, scoring 54 points in the area, and in transition, scoring 40 points on the fastbreak.
The Cougars, meanwhile, shot only 22.6 percent from the court and committed 27 turnovers with 22 of them being steals. NU scored 39 of its points off those turnovers.
The Cats now fly out to Las Vegas to compete in the Duel in the Desert tournament. On Wednesday, NU will play Wichita State before competing against Kansas or Washington State the following day.
“We are getting our shots back,” Satterwhite said. “We were scoring low in the past games so having a high-scoring game is awesome going into Wichita State in Vegas.”
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