The Northwestern women’s basketball team defeated the Delaware Blue Hens 76-53 on Sunday in dominant fashion. After a slow start, the Wildcat offense found its spark and finished the matchup shooting a respectable 45% on 60 attempts with 27 points coming off the bench. The defense made its mark as well, forcing 15 turnovers for 20 points and allowing only 16 points in the first two frames. Here are three takeaways from the Wildcats’ impressive non-conference win:
The ‘Cats have offensive depth for the first time in a long time
Coming off of a season where offensive struggles were evident, it was a pleasant surprise to see the bench emptied against Delaware. Nine players found themselves on the board for the ‘Cats, four of whom — Caileigh Walsh, Mel Daley, Laya Hartman and Burton — reached double figures. Five players, including Hartman, contributed off the bench.
One thing to note is Northwestern was missing two staple players in Jillian Brown (non-COVID illness) and Lauryn Satterwhite (injury). Both have started and played major roles in multiple matchups this season, so their absence rightfully caused worry pregame, but it’s evident from NU’s dominant performance against the Blue Hens that there are far more reliable shooters on this squad than last year.
Northwestern outscored Delaware 33 to 16 in the first half and shot an impressive 54% in the second. Additionally, 16 of the ‘Cats’ 25 fourth quarter points came from the bench. Despite a 20 point lead to begin the final frame, every bench player was hungry to score, and they did. Though Delaware may not compare to the more difficult conference opponents NU will face in the coming weeks, the presence of multiple players who can hit shots in and out of the paint is a good sight to see.
Nice to see you again, Laya Hartman
A highly touted recruit, Laya Hartman was a favorite to step in as a scorer after the loss of Northwestern fan-favorites Abbie Wolf and Abi Scheid last season. Unfortunately, a leg injury prevented her from establishing a role on the court her sophomore season. It’s safe to say that it’s nice to finally have her back. The Wildcats’ win against Delaware might as well be Hartman’s breakout game, as she set multiple new career highs with 12 points, eight rebounds and four assists
Hartman went 5-for-9 on the day, including an impressive 2-for-4 from behind the arc. Six of her eight rebounds came on the defensive end, only matched by Courtney Shaw. A player who was the 13th ranked guard in the nation for her graduating class, Hartman is on the road to her best season yet. If she keeps up her efforts on both ends of the court, there is no doubt McKeown will continue to slot her into his rotation.
Missed shots in the paint are reasons for concern
Despite a double-digit lead just after the start of the second half, the ‘Cats were a collective 8-for-20 within five feet of the basket. One of their most consistent finishers at the basket, Shaw, was also 0-for-4 at that point and finished the contest with a season low of two points. Aside from Shaw, there were still far too many easy opportunities that NU failed to take advantage of. The Wildcats shot 6-for-20 inside the arc in the first half, the majority of which were missed in the paint on free layups and unmatched floaters. Though phenomenal second half play and solid defense throughout was the saving grace, missed opportunities on these easy shots could catch up to Northwestern later on in the season.