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Rapid Reaction: Northwestern beats Loyola-Chicago 63-47 in defensive affair

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Crosstown rivals, but this time with a familiar face on the other side.

@nuwbball on Twitter

EVANSTON, Ill. — Northwestern (3-0) defeated Loyola-Chicago (1-2) 63-47 in Abi Scheid’s first visit back to Welsh-Ryan Arena in two years — this time behind enemy lines as the Ramblers’ Director of Player Development.

Unfortunately, Scheid’s memory of McKeown’s playbook from her days as a player in Evanston did not carry over into her new side’s performance, as the Wildcats handed the Ramblers their second loss in dominant fashion. In what ended up being a low-scoring, defensive game, Northwestern caused 26 turnovers, turning them into 17 points.

Courtney Shaw had herself a night with 12 points and five rebounds while first-years Caileigh Walsh and Jillian Brown combined for 17 points. Veronica Burton was somewhat quiet in terms of scoring with a modest 16 points, but her passing was crucial as she contributed seven assists. Sophomore Paige Mott had arguably one of her best this season, adding six points and five rebounds.

The Wildcats stepped onto the court with confidence, pulling out to an early six-point lead by the middle of the first. First-year Walsh enjoyed somewhat of a coming out party early on, pulling up for two baskets beyond the arc and one from inside the paint within the first four minutes of play. She also made her mark with a massive block on the defensive end as well.

Despite suspected insider knowledge of the Blizzard through Scheid on the Loyola side, Burton and Co. ran McKeown’s defensive scheme as well as they have all season from the get-go. The Ramblers went on a three-and-a-half minute scoring drought in the first frame thanks to four turnovers caused by four different Wildcats, which then resulted in seven points. Burton contributed a whopping seven assists and Walsh led all scorers with eight points as Northwestern pulled out to a 25-10 lead at the end of the first quarter.

It turns out the ‘Cats’ lead was extra helpful as the second frame began. Loyola came out strong, adding six unanswered points to their total in the first four minutes. Northwestern struggled to respond with missed attempts by both Lauryn Satterwhite and Walsh until a trademark left-handed layup by Burton broke the scoring drought. Two baskets from the charity stripe by Shaw re-extended the lead to 13 points while the Ramblers couldn’t seem to get themselves back into favorable range.

The rest of the quarter remained uneventful, as both teams failed to score for three minutes near the end of the half. Satterwhite added a slight spark with a scrappy jumper with close to two minutes remaining, and Loyola continued their scoreless streak despite being sent to the free-throw line due to a foul on Sydney Wood shortly after.

The Ramblers ended the half making only one of their most recent eight field goal attempts, a testament once again to Northwestern’s efficiency in the Blizzard. Notably, first-years Walsh, Jillian Brown and Melannie Daley seem to have picked up the scheme quickly, allowing the defense to continue running smoothly as players rotated off the bench. Northwestern went into the locker room at halftime up 31-19, looking to carry over its momentum into the third frame.

The second half began in a stalemate facilitated by two fouls on Loyola and several missed attempts on both ends. The only three points scored in the first two-and-a-half minutes came from the stripe thanks to both Burton and Walsh, but Loyola then shortly ended their scoring drought with a long three from senior Janae Gonzales.

The fouls continued to rain down on both sides with consecutive personals on Paige Mott, Brown and Walsh in the span of 11 seconds, luckily only resulting in one made free throw by the Ramblers. Brown redeemed herself shortly thereafter with her first score of the night from beyond the arc followed by a gritty layup by Wood, stretching Northwestern’s lead to 16.

The Wildcats continued to dominate by going on an 11 to six run at the end of the quarter and allowing just nine points. Though NU’s outstanding defense contributed heavily to third quarter spread, the Ramblers also committed 11 fouls, shooting themselves in the foot plenty.

The final 10 only saw the Wildcats maintain their lead, albeit amidst a continued onslaught of fouls on both ends once again. Burton re-established herself on the court with five points early on, bumping her into position as the matchup’s leading scorer. Brown also had a productive quarter, contributing five points, five rebounds and one assist before the final whistle. To wrap it all up, Hailey Weaver made her first appearance in the purple and white off the bench, the last of the four first-years to rack up some playing time so far this season.

All-in-all, both teams combined for 45 turnovers in what was somewhat of a slow, whistle-filled game, but Northwestern clearly housed more skill, finesse and speed than their opponents which allowed them to emerge victorious in the end with a solid victory.

For Loyola, Gonzales emerged as a leader with 12 points, all of which came from beyond the arc, and Allison Day gave Northwestern a run for its money in the paint with a double-double of 10 points and 12 boards.

Northwestern’s next matchup sends the ‘Cats down to Lincoln Park for a matchup against their other Chicago counterpart, DePaul, on Sunday, Nov. 21 at 5 pm CT.