They say all good things must come to an end, and on Saturday, Dec. 19, Northwestern women's basketball's undefeated start did. After a fairly convincing defeat of Alcorn State early in the week improved their record to 10-0, the No. 12 Wildcats finally met their match when the #16 DePaul Blue Demons handed them their first loss of the season.
At home in Welsh-Ryan Arena Tuesday, the Wildcats never trailed against a hapless Alcorn State (1-6) team. After a 31-point outpouring in the first quarter, the Braves never really stood a chance, eventually falling by a score of 91-47. Nia Coffey led the way for the Wildcats as usual, tallying 23 points and 17 rebounds for her sixth double-double of the season. Northwestern recorded season-high totals with 56 total boards and 26 assists, and the 44-point margin of victory was the greatest thus far of this year's campaign.
Northwestern (10-1) failed to carry over the energy gained from the annihilation of Alcorn State into the Saturday match with DePaul (8-4), by far the best opponent in Northwestern’s non-conference schedule. The Blue Demons looked the part, building up a 39-26 lead at the half thanks to 16 points, 7 boards, and three assists from Megan Podkowa. To their credit, the Wildcats continued to fight in the second half; a 10-0 run in the third quarter helped close the Blue Demon lead to 55-52 heading into the final frame. The ‘Cats kept it close in the closing period, trailing by a few as three with nine minutes to play, but the visitors used a timely 8-0 run to pull away with a 77-64 win, permanently blemishing Northwestern’s previously spotless record.
Podkowa paced the Blue Demons with 27 points and 14 rebounds, while Coffey recorded another double-double of her own, her seventh of the season, with a 'lucky' 13 points/13 rebound night despite battling foul trouble for much of the game. The speedy Wildcats held the edge in fast break points, but the Blue Demons controlled virtually every other statistical category, highlighted by a 50-37 edge in rebounds and a 30% three-point percentage as compared to Northwestern’s 24 percent.
Under coach Joe McKeown, Northwestern women’s basketball is very familiar with this kind of start – the Wildcats started last season with a 10-0 record before suffering their first loss in their 11th game. Last season, Northwestern rebounded from that defeat to win their next game against a good Michigan State team, and this year, the ‘Cats have a good chance to bounceback on Tuesday against the Missouri-Kansas City Kangaroos (4-6) before they open conference play against Penn State on New Year’s Eve.