By Ari Levin
Northwestern Women’s Basketball dominated at Welsh-Ryan Arena on Sunday in their win over the University of Tennessee at Martin. The Wildcats (5-0) matched the up-tempo pace of the Skyhawks (4-2) and controlled the paint to win 90-64.
The story of the game was the impressive play of first-year guard Jess Sancataldo. The left-handed Australian sharpshooter led both teams with a career-high 20 points on just ten shots, demonstrating how she continues to become more comfortable every day after coming to Evanston from overseas.
“We’ve been really impressed with her progress,” said Northwestern head coach Joe McKeown after the game.
UT-Martin entered the game averaging over 90 points per game as a team behind a fast-paced, run-and-gun offense. But Northwestern had no problem stopping their offensive attack, limiting the Skyhawks to a season-low scoring total.
Meanwhile, Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah proved to be a force for the Wildcats in the paint. The senior scored 12 points and added 16 rebounds in just 22 minutes. In doing so, she recorded her fourth double-double in the team’s first five games. She also attempted a dunk but just missed with a defender closing in.
“If you’re going to dunk in a college basketball game, you’ve got the green light,” said McKeown. “And she can do it.”
The Skyhawks played a full-court press for the entire game, but after a few early turnovers, the Wildcats were able to easily break it. Northwestern scored 16 straight points in the second quarter, outscored the Skyhawks 28-12 in that period, and took a 20-point lead going into halftime.
Northwestern scored 25 points off 20 UT Martin turnovers and 31 fast-break points in total while also winning the post battle scoring-wise, 46-20 overall and a dominant 32-4 in the first half.
The story was the same at the foul line, where Northwestern made 24 of their 34 attempts compared to just 9 of 15 for the Skyhawks, who attempted just two free throws in the first half.
On the injury front, Northwestern forward Abi Scheid missed the game with an injury and was replaced by Bryana Hopkins, while point guard Veronica Burton missed her third straight game. In some good news, first year Sydney Wood returned off the bench after missing the last two games.
Northwestern remains perfect on the season with the win. The next game for the Wildcats comes on Thursday night against Pitt (3-4) in the ACC-Big Ten challenge.