It wasn't pretty, but the Northwestern women's basketball team won its home opener, 71-57, over an undersized Western Kentucky, to improve its record to 2-0. NU got off to hot starts at the beginning of each half, but sloppy play allowed Western Kentucky to keep things somewhat closer than they needed to be, though the Hilltoppers never seriously challenged. There was actually a stretch in the first half, when NU went a ridiculous 1-for-18 from the field. Fortunately, the defense was pretty stout. The Wildcats' full-court press gave Western Kentucky fits, forcing the Hilltoppers into 21 turnovers.
I continue to be really impressed with freshman point guard Karly Roser, who got a double double, with 12 points and 10 assists. She also had 7 rebounds. Roser was all over the court, slashing through the lane, pushing the ball up the court, and showing a good command of the offense, while causing some havoc on defense.
Kendall Hackney led all scorers with 17 points, and Dannielle Diamant, after a quiet first half, finished with 15 points and nine rebounds. Brittany Orban added 11 points.
Not having a good night was touted freshman guard Morgan Jones, who struggled with her shot for the second straight game. She went 3-for-13 from the field, including 1-for-7 from behind the arc, and saw plenty of time on the bench during the second half. She seems like she's pressing a bit too much, forcing up bad shots, instead of using her athleticism to get open, drive the lane and draw fouls, or spot other open teammates. She did finish with 8 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists, so it wasn't a totally bad game.
A concern for the Wildcats has to be their lack of depth. Head coach Joe McKeown only played eight players in the season opener at Central Michigan; tonight, only nine Wildcats got into the game. Scoring from the bench consisted of Tailor Jones' 4 points in 25 minutes and Allison Mocchi's 4 points in six minutes. Alex Cohen and Meghan McKeown were shut out.
Some of the depth problems are injury related. Center Anna Cole, forward Kate Popovic and guard La'Terria Taylor are still out with injuries. Hopefully they heal fast, especially Cole and Popovic, to provide some help for Diamant and Hackney on the front line, where the Wildcats are particularly thin.
Also, the ‘Cats went 7-for-14 from the free throw line, which obviously isn't good, and they gave up 15 offensive rebounds, though they got 18 offensive boards of their own.
Next up is a Thursday home game against Illinois State.