A red hot Northwestern (8-1) team took care of business on Monday, dispatching of an inferior UT-Arlington squad (5-4), 74-47.
Several Wildcats got in on the action, and four posted double digit scoring. Lindsey Pulliam, Abi Scheid, Veronica Burton and Jordan Hamilton led the ‘Cats with 17, 15, 13 and 11, respectively. The story of the game was the balanced nature of the Northwestern attack, with the team shooting 48 percent from the field.
Overall, the key for Northwestern was its three-point shooting. NU knocked down 11 threes and shot the deep ball at 44 percent. It was especially important for Burton, who has struggled with her three-point shooting as of late.
“It’s definitely a relief, I didn’t start the season shooting as well as I had hoped,” Burton said after the game. “But all my coaches and teammates told me to keep shooting. It’s good to see them go in.”
Hamilton was in a somewhat similar position. The junior had been sidelined for a couple of weeks due to injury but was able to find her rhythm today,
“It’s tough coming back from injuries, but my teammates made it so easy for me,” Hamilton said. “And that feeling makes it so much easier to come back.”
Marie Benson carried the Mavericks with 16 points on 13 attempts, but it was far too little to keep her team in the game. Northwestern raced out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter and never looked back, not letting UT-Arlington get within eight the rest of the game.
“I think for us, we notice how much of a difference it can be when we come out strong,” Burton said. “It makes a big difference for the rest of the game and it sets the tone. It’s easy to get assists when everyone is shooting the ball.”
By the end of the opening half, NU had established a 17-point lead, and the result was never in doubt. Nonetheless, the Wildcats the came out hot to open the second half as well, quickly extending their lead to 26.
“We brag about our defense, but we don’t want to let our offense become our defense,” coach Joe McKeown said. “When you make shots I think it uplifts your defense and energizes us, and I think we made some dagger threes and that’s what happened.”
Northwestern will next head to Florida to take part in the West Palm Invitational. Its first opponent will be East Carolina before the ‘Cats take on Xavier, regardless of their result in the first game.
“It’s going to be about taking it one game at a time,” Burton said. “We don’t want to get too ahead of ourselves, we just want to get better in every game.”
After the holiday series, NU will plunge right into conference play, taking on the Fighting Illini in Champaign on December 28.