EVANSTON, Ill. — At long last, the Wildcats are victorious. After a tough stretch of Big Ten play, Northwestern (7-13, 0-9 B1G) secured an 87-64 win over Chicago State (1-21) — its first since Dec. 17.
Led by Caileigh Walsh’s 17 points and 10 rebounds and Caroline Lau’s career-high 20 points, seven rebounds and six assists, Northwestern scored a season-high 87 points.
For the Cougars, Laura Segues’s 14 points and six rebounds and Tae’lor Willard’s 14 points and six assists were not enough to guide Chicago State past Northwestern.
Lau got the offense started for the ‘Cats, assisting Walsh inside for an easy layup. On the next possession, Lau picked off an errant pass, going coast to coast to give Northwestern a 4-0 lead.
Lau stayed hot, cashing in for two on a layup before connecting from deep to give her seven points in the first five and a half minutes of play.
After the first media timeout, Northwestern attacked and converted at the rim as layups from Courtney Shaw, Paige Mott and Jillian Brown gave the ‘Cats a 21-7 lead.
But, Chicago State responded, scoring eight straight points to end the first quarter, including back-to-back threes from Ahlea Myers and Segues.
To start the second frame, Lau continued to provide Northwestern a spark, knocking down another triple. Jasmine McWilliams added to the offense, giving the ‘Cats four points off layups to extend the lead to 13.
Yet Chicago State battled, picking up loose balls, getting to the foul line and knocking down threes, as a Segues triple cut the deficit to six with just two minutes to play in the first half.
With both teams trading points to end the second quarter, the ‘Cats took a 38-30 lead into the break. In a half characterized by sloppy play, turnovers and a combined 32% shooting between the two teams, Northwestern’s Lau and McWilliams led the way with a combined 18 points.
Thanks to NU’s careless play, Chicago State opened the second half on a six-point run, reducing the home side’s lead to just two.
But, aggressive play by Northwestern’s Walsh boosted the Wildcats’ offense, as her eleven points in the first five and a half minutes of the third quarter had NU leading 53-38. A combination of attacking the basket and connecting from the line made Walsh effective, as she overcame her 3-for-10 first-half shooting woes.
As Chicago State missed 12 of its last 15 shots to end the third quarter, Northwestern ballooned out to a 68-45 lead, led by a combined 17 third quarter points between Walsh and Lau.
With Northwestern’s sizable advantage entering the final frame, minutes from Shaw, Alana Goodchild, Mercy Ademusayo and Hailey Weaver in the fourth quarter would help the ‘Cats close things out.
Northwestern will be back in action this Sunday, as the ‘Cats travel to Madison to take on Wisconsin at 1 p.m. CT.