There would be no West Coast hangover for Northwestern (11-2) as the Wildcats defeated UT-Martin (4-9) 82-59 behind a game-high 20 points from Nia Coffey.
Coming off a demoralizing loss at Gonzaga, Northwestern came out of the gates strong. A 13-2 opening run was exactly what the offense needed. Northwestern put up 29 points in the first quarter behind 11 points from Coffey and 7 points from Christen Inman.
The second quarter started poorly for Northwestern, as UT-Martin hit back-to-back three-pointers and cut the lead to seven on a Janeika Mason layup. The lead hovered between seven and nine as both teams traded baskets, but an Ashley Deary jumper and a pair of Northwestern three-pointers from Inman and Lauren Douglas restored Northwestern’s advantage to 42-27 with 3:47 remaining in the second quarter.
However, Northwestern was unable to fully cement its advantage, and UT-Martin pulled the lead down to 45-34 by halftime, helped by two fouls from Lydia Rohde that earned UT-Martin four points from the charity stripe. Northwestern had shot 54 percent from the field in the first half, hopefully erasing memories of the offensive struggles that plagued it during the fourth quarter at Gonzaga.
The first points of the second half were a three from Deary that put Northwestern up by 14. Northwestern stayed in firm control of the contest on both sides of the ball. Deary racked up 7 steals and 8 assists by the end of the third quarter, shutting down UT-Martin while also facilitating efficiently on offense. Inman and Coffey were the beneficiaries. Coffey finished the game with 20 points and Inman added another 14.
Northwestern was able to close out the game with its bench unit as UT-Martin’s offense ground to a halt and the deficit ballooned to over 20 points. Northwestern coasted home to its eleventh win of the season and will hope to build upon this performance in conference play.
Northwestern’s first Big Ten game will be at Nebraska on December 28th.