By: Caleigh Ryan
The Northwestern Wildcats (13-2, 2-0) debuted a new starting five as they cruised to a dominant 76-60 victory over the Purdue Boilermakers (9-6, 0-1) on the last day of 2016. Allie Tuttle got her first career start in place of Oceana Hamilton, and Lauren Douglas started for Lydia Rohde, as Rohde did not dress and was seen on the bench with her left foot in a boot.
After a slow start to the game due to clock issues at Welsh-Ryan Arena, Purdue pounced out to an early 8-0 lead. Douglas was able to break the run with an early three, contributing to her season-high 18 points. Douglas dominated all parts of the game, impressing in a performance that included seven rebounds, four assists, three blocks, and four steals.
Three-point shooting was hot for the ‘Cats in the first half, going 5-9 from beyond the arc (including going 4-6 at one point in the second quarter). The team settled into a strong rhythm and forced the Boilermakers to commit 11 turnovers in the first half. While Purdue would finish with 20 turnovers, it was truly outside shooting that was the difference in this contest. The Cats shot a blistering 47.1% from beyond the arc, compared to the 16.7% thrown up by the Boilermakers.
Coffey struggled to find her shot at first, but got on the score sheet with back-to-back buckets in the paint, eventually finishing with a game-high 19 points.
The second half was more smooth swimming for the ‘Cats on Finding Dory Day at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Tuttle picked up a few early fouls, forcing Abi Scheid back into the game for the purple and white. Douglas continued her dominant play and Coffey showed her impressive scoring skills, putting points up through double teams and contact to extend her program record double figure scoring streak to 63 consecutive games.
The outstanding play displayed today of Douglas, combined with the always terrific Coffey, Christen Inman, and Ashley Deary spells for a positive 2017. Douglas, a red-shirt senior, brings a spark to Northwestern that was missing last season.
Also notable, Deary tied the Big Ten career steals record with 372 steals. She needs only one more to hold the honor alone, which she will no doubt be looking for against the Buckeyes on Tuesday night
The ‘Cats will next face their toughest conference stretch, first taking on Ohio State in Evanston on January 3 before traveling to College Park to challenge Maryland on January 7. The Cats should look to steal a win in one of these two tough contests before moving on to the rest of conference play. As always, WNUR Sports will have the call for these games on 89.3 FM in the Evanston-Chicago area, and online at wnursports.com.