Northwestern's women’s basketball team snapped a four-game losing streak on Thursday night, defeating the Illinois Fighting Illini 69-59 in Champaign.
The Wildcats’ (14-9, 3-8 B1G) season appeared to be spiraling out of control after dropping eight of their first 10 conference matchups, but they were lucky to run into an even colder Illinois (8-14, 1-10 B1G) squad, who had dropped 13 of their last 14 going into the game.
Northwestern got off to a fast start, beginning the game on a 9-2 run, but Illinois fought back and even led 32-27 at halftime.
The Wildcats, though, clawed their way back into the game, keyed by an 18-6 run extending from the 4:10 mark in the third quarter to the 4:09 mark in the fourth. The run turned a two-point Northwestern deficit into a ten-point advantage and they didn’t look back, utilizing strong free-throw shooting down the stretch to close out the Fighting Illini.
Northwestern found success on the boards throughout the contest, out-rebounding Illinois 51-39 overall and 18-14 on the offensive side of the glass. The Wildcats rode these 18 rebounds to 10 second-chance points. Freshman forward Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah was again a major contributor in this department, recording 13 rebounds (eight offensive), despite only tallying three points on 1-for-3 shooting.
But it was the usual suspects who sparked the Wildcats in this one, as Nia Coffey and Christen Inman each contributed 20 points. Coffey also tacked on 13 rebounds, two steals and two blocks on 10-for-17 shooting, while Maggie Lyon added 17 points and seven rebounds. Ashley Deary struggled offensively on the night, going 1-for-8 from the floor, but found other ways to affect the game, dishing out three assists, grabbing three steals and corralling seven rebounds.
Chatrice White led the way for Illinois, registering a double-double on the night with 16 points and 10 rebounds on 6-for-17.
It’s been a long time since Northwestern has gotten a win to build on, but the Wildcats will look to do exactly that when they host the Minnesota Golden Gophers (15-7, 7-4 B1G) on Sunday afternoon at Welsh-Ryan Arena