The Wildcats got off to an early lead, and were able to hang on to win 64-55 despite an extended shooting slump. The win improves their record to 2-0 on the year.
Halfway through the first quarter, the Wildcats were up 14-1, and looked clearly like the superior team. After that point, the ‘Cats stalled on offense, and they really started struggling in the third quarter going 1-6 from the field to open the half.
Nia Coffey looked like her usual self, and was clearly the best player on the floor. She had 20 points and 11 rebounds on 8-17 shooting, and also made her presence felt on the defensive end. Coffey hasn’t been challenged yet from either of these non-conference games, as neither team has any players with her athletic ability. Regardless, she has done what she’s supposed to do so far, and seems comfortable in her role as the star player.
Point guard Ashley Deary excelled at getting to the line today, and had plenty of success once she got there. Deary’s defense is still her best asset, but her ability to create and make plays could add a valuable dimension to this Northwestern offense. She shot just 62.9 percent at the line last year, so an improvement in that category would be key as well. She also passed the 1,000 career points mark, joining fellow senior teammates Christen Inman and Nia Coffey in that club.
However, Deary really struggled from the field, going 0-11, and couldn’t get the right feel on her jumpers. She also had problems finishing once she got in the lane, though that was somewhat made up for by her ability to get fouled. As a team though, the ‘Cats had problems finishing inside, with just 16 points in the paint.
The Wildcats made their presence felt on defense early in this one, picking up six blocks in the first quarter. Their bigs overpowered the Golden Eagles all game, and did a strong job protecting the rim. Oceana Hamilton and Abbie Wolf especially used their 6’4” frame to stifle the Oral Roberts low-post options.
Senior Lauren Douglas played a significant role off the bench, playing 19 minutes. One of the ‘Cats biggest problems last year was their lack of depth, and Douglas’s ability to play multiple positions and score inside and out should be very helpful. She’s still not in her peak form offensively yet after missing all of last season with an injury, but her six blocks show her impact on the defensive end.
Lydia Rohde was 3-3 from deep, and she’s starting to look like a reliable three-point shooting option. Finding three-point shooting is a major key for the ‘Cats this year, and two games in, it looks like Lydia Rohde will be a valuable source of outside shooting for this team.
The ‘Cats struggled to get an advantage on the glass in a game where they should have dominated in that category. As the bigger, more athletic team, the ‘Cats should have been able to maintain a consistent advantage in that category. Instead, they barely edged out Oral Roberts 42-41.
The ‘Cats continue their non-conference home stand on Wednesday as they host Missouri State.