EVANSTON, IL -- Northwestern has a star in the making in Amber Jamison.
Jamison led the way with 22 points as the Northwestern Wildcats (15-4, 4-2 B1G) defeated the Michigan State Spartans (13-6, 3-3) 76-65 Tuesday night at Welsh-Ryan Arena despite Nia Coffey’s struggles and the absence of Christen Inman.
Coffey, the team’s leading scorer, only registered seven points and shot 1 of 14 from the field. For Michigan State, Tori Jankoska led all scorers with 25 points and 8 rebounds. Lauren Douglas and Ashley Deary also helped out with 13 and 20 points respectively, but Jamison was the star of the show.
“Amber did a great job, she showed a lot of poise,” head coach Joe McKeown said. “She played great defense, she played at both ends of the floor and obviously her numbers are staggering, but her energy was great.”
The game got off to a strange start, as 1:25 into the contest Michigan St. was forced to call timeout and the game headed into a break at exactly 2-0. The game didn’t get anymore more normal as the quarter continued. Northwestern ran out to an early 8-2 lead with Allie Tuttle’s season high 6 points leading the way.
Jankoska responded with a quick five points of her own to cut the Northwestern lead to 8-7. Then Coffey went down with an injury and missed the rest of the quarter. It had all the makings of a disaster for Northwestern. However, the Wildcats got quality minutes from Maya Jonas off the bench, and Jamison and Lauren Douglas picked up the scoring. Even without Coffey, Northwestern finished the quarter on an extended 12-3 run and led 20-10.
“Those guy have been working hard everyday and they made big plays for us against a really good defensive team,” McKeown said.” I just thought it got us over the hump and created some confidence for other players.”
The second quarter was all about the runs. Michigan St opened the quarter with a quick 5-0 run before both teams traded 8-0 runs and exasperated head coach timeouts.
Jankoska continued to light up Northwestern’s defense before taking a hard fall late in the half and having to go to the locker room. The injury would prove to be minor, and she would return to start the third quarter. Michigan St. soldiered on, scoring a couple more buckets and cutting the Northwestern halftime lead to only 1. After leading by as much 13, Northwestern only led 37-36.
Out of the half, the offensive pace slowed to a crawl as the teams combined for a whopping eight points in the first 4:30 of the quarter. Unfortunately for Northwestern, most of those points were from Michigan St. A three from Jamison got the team out of a seven-minute field goal drought, but Jankoska answered on the other end and the Spartans maintained their two point lead.
The slow pace continued after a media timeout, but this time it was Northwestern inching ahead. A pair of Jamison three pointers and an Abi Scheid jumper was enough to put the Wildcats up by 7 at the end of the third quarter.
“It was really big, I know we had a little down point sometime in the second quarter, so just having that momentum going into that fourth quarter was great,” Jamison said. “It just fueled us to finish the game.”
Offensive output did not pick up in the fourth, as the two teams combined for 13 points through the first five minutes, but this time it was a fairly even split, Northwestern with 6, Michigan St. with 7. Thanks to their late third quarter run, the game of attrition now favored the Wildcats.
Northwestern finally broke through late in the game, as it ripped off an 8-0 run primarily at the line to put the Spartans away. Jamison only scored one point in the fourth quarter, but she had already done enough early on to secure the victory.
“Just proud of our team again, it’s just inspirational how they’ve responded to all the challenges that have been put in front of them,” McKeown said.” It takes a lot of courage to do what they’re doing right now and I told them that, I think they’re a really special group in that respect.”