The Northwestern women’s basketball team recovered from a disappointing loss to DePaul, handily defeating the Missouri-Kansas City Kangaroos 80-38 on Tuesday afternoon. Senior Maggie Lyon lit up the scoresheet with 17 points and five assists as Northwestern’s offense and defense recovered from poor showings against the Blue Demons.
The first quarter saw little offensive action as Northwestern and UMKC traded misses to start the game. Northwestern took a seven-point lead at the end of the quarter due to its defense, which showed some improvement after looking very poor over the weekend. UMKC was held to eight points in the first quarter and under 40 points in the game, and the Kangaroos were unable to break through Northwestern's defense.
Maggie Lyon scored twelve points in the first half as Northwestern built up a comfortable 15-point lead by halftime. The Wildcats took full command of the game after the break with a 10-point run to start the third quarter. Northwestern scored 27 points in a huge third quarter and eventually won by 42. The Wildcats finished the game with an 27 assists to just two turnovers.
Star forward Nia Coffey was relatively quiet on offense. Ashley Deary started poorly, but she picked it up in the second half and ended with nine assists and five steals. Christen Inman continued her massive offensive improvement from last season with 12 points on 42.9 percent shooting. Inman’s midrange shooting has become a critical part of Northwestern’s offense. Northwestern was never in danger of losing the lead to UMKC behind its efficient offensive performance.
With the big lead, Coach McKeown rotated the squad after the starters’ heavy workload against DePaul. Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah came in to give the team much-needed rebounding and picked up eight boards, including seven in the first half alone. Jordan Hankins continued to get minutes as Northwestern’s second guard. Although she also came off the bench, Lydia Rohde looks like she will be playing starter’s minutes for the time being. Rohde scored four points and picked up four assists.
In a common thread across both Northwestern basketball teams, we won’t really know how good the teams are until they start Big Ten play. The women’s basketball team looked terrible for three of four quarters against DePaul, the only ranked team that NU has played thus far. While the team has crushed some lowly opposition like UMKC, it played some very close games against objectively inferior teams like Eastern Washington, East Carolina, and Loyola Chicago. Northwestern is still the third best team in the Big Ten on paper, but Iowa, Michigan State, and Purdue are all still in the discussion. The team will get a much-needed break leading up to Northwestern’s first Big Ten game at Penn State on New Year’s Eve.