By: Ari Levin
The Northwestern women’s basketball team will tip off their season at Chicago State on Friday, Nov. 9. The Wildcats topped the Cougars in Evanston last year, and have won their previous six meetings with Chicago State.
The Wildcats topped Missouri-St. Louis in an exhibition game on Sunday, 59-40. Three different first-years saw playing time, and both Jordan Hamilton and Lindsey Pulliam look like they will factor in to this year’s backcourt rotation. The class as a whole was ranked no. 17 nationally by espnW.
In addition to Pulliam and Hamilton, returning players Amber Jamison, Abi Scheid and Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah all started the exhibition game and should see a heavy dosage of playing time this year. Seniors Lydia Rohde and Oceana Hamilton provide shooting and rim protection, respectively and have proven to be valuable role players coming into their senior seasons.
The biggest thing to know about the Chicago State Cougars is that they have not won a game since February 2016. The Cougars are in the midst of a 36-game losing streak, and the Northwestern Wildcats hope to make it 37. The streak will likely continue for some time as the Cougars were a unanimous choice for last place in the WAC preseason coaches’ and media polls.
The last time that Chicago State won, 57-49 over Seattle, only two current Cougars were on the team, and one of them wasn’t in that game. Only junior guard Tiana Thomas and redshirt senior guard Konner Harris, who scored 19 in the win over Seattle way back when, have tasted victory for Chicago State.
Konner Harris and Destiny Harris are the two consistent starters returning for the Cougars. Konner Harris missed much of last season with an injury, with her last action of the season coming against Northwestern. Destiny Harris averaged nearly six rebounds per game, starting all but one for Chicago State.
Joining the team is a crop of new players from around the country. Phylicia Johnson joins the team as a redshirt Freshman after sitting out last year for NCAA transfer rules. Johnson played two seasons at Eastern Illinois before transferring to Chicago State, and hopes to add shooting ability to a team that shot just 37 percent from the floor last year.
Also joining the team is 6-foot-1-inch forward Ines Mata Boix, who also sat out last year after transferring from Marquette. Mata Boix is a gold medal winner on the 2013 U16 European Championships, and will be the tallest player on the team.
Four freshman also join the team from across the Midwest, including three guards and forward/center Tamara Olverson. The X-factor for the team could be freshman guard Alexa “Red” Blake From Pickerington, Ohio, who has a deep range and willingness to shoot over anyone.
Looking longer term, Chicago State will add three transfers next season who will sit out this year, including the German-born Mailee Jones who has spent time with the Vietnamese National Team.