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Northwestern women’s basketball continues winning streak, takes down UIC

The Wildcats, missing two rotation pieces, got more than enough production to smoke the Flames.

Northwestern women’s basketball took care of business yet again. The Wildcats (3-0) defeated University of Illinois-Chicago Flames (1-1) 87-44 Thursday night. Northwestern proved the teams weren’t in the same league, dominating every stat category and easily securing a decisive win over the Flames.

It was an all-around team win: four players put up double digits, and five others contributed to the 87-point total.

“This group, they like each other,” Coach Joe McKeown said after the game. “They share the ball. They’re really unselfish.”

After a conservative, mistake-filled start, Northwestern started to pull away with a few minutes left in the first quarter. While the rest of the Wildcats were scuffling, Lindsey Pulliam came out hot, scoring 10 of her 22 points in the first quarter. UIC’s zone press didn’t seem to faze the Wildcats, even when the game was tied up early on. Byrdy Galernik filled in at guard for an injured Veronica Burton and was able to stay composed under UIC’s pressure, finishing with eight points and scoring her first points of the year.

Northwestern’s 20 point halftime lead only grew down the stretch. While Pulliam dominated the first half for the Wildcats, she was quieter in the second, and her teammates all stepped up to contribute. Bryana Hopkins, Abi Scheid and Jess Sancataldo all came alive in the second half. Scheid finished with 16; Hopkins scored her first 14 points of the season, and Sancataldo had 10 (all in the last seven minutes).

McKeown’s matchup zone got the job done against the Flames. The Wildcats held UIC to 32 percent shooting, which kept with their now three game streak of holding teams to 40 percent or less from the field.

“They’re a Sweet 16 team,” UIC Head Coach and former Northwestern assistant Tasha Pointer said. “Pulliam is probably playing her best basketball along with Jordan. Those two, they got a lot of experience last year, and you can definitely tell.”

While the defense looked good, shooting was what ultimately won the game for Northwestern. Northwestern shot 51 percent and was able to put up almost 90 points. Northwestern only had one 80-point game last season and has already scored over 80 points twice this season. The Wildcats are a more talented team in every regard, which really came through on offense.

When asked where he saw the most improvement within his team’s offense, McKeown focused on their scoring depth: “When you can share the ball and you’ve got four people that can spread you out and potentially can shoot the basketball and then having Pallas being able to run the floor and get to the offensive glass too, I think we’re a just much better offensive team in general.”

Northwestern will go on the road to play Florida (0-3) Sunday at 1:00 p.m.

“It’s not even Thanksgiving,” McKeown said. “We’re just getting started.”