In their quest to finally be ranked by the Associated Press, Northwestern's women’s basketball team proved their talents by dominating Penn State (7-11, 1-6 B1G) at home on Sunday, achieving a season-high in points and assists in the 85-59 victory.
The Wildcats (16-2, 6-1 B1G) opened on a 13-2 run in the first quarter and never looked back, holding Penn State to just six field goals in the first half alone. The dynamic duo of senior Abi Scheid and junior Lindsay Pulliam, led the way for the ’Cats, scoring 24 and 21 points, respectively. Abbie Wolf complemented the two, scoring 14 points and grabbing seven rebounds.
“We have so much firepower on this team, and we always talk about it. When one person’s off, four people can step up,” Scheid said after the game.
Penn State had a rough first half and never recovered, losing 24-7 after the first quarter. They were marred by poor shooting, scoring just six field goals off of 33 shots in the first half. Kamaria McDaniel led the Lady Lions with 18 points in the game, while Makenna Maris had 17.
The ’Cats will now await for the AP to release their updated rankings on Monday after missing the Top 25 last week with 23 votes received. After an overtime victory at No. 15 Indiana and a convincing display over Penn State, the ’Cats have a solid case for reaching somewhere they haven’t been since January 2016. Welsh-Ryan Arena was buzzing at this idea, with one sign reading “Rank us you cowards!” and the Spirit Squad leading a “Rank NU” chant.
“I don’t think [the likelihood of being ranked] is going to affect [our play] at all,” said Scheid. “We’re still going to have that mindset where we’re the underdog, still play with a chip on our shoulder, as coach [Joe McKeown] always says,” Scheid said.
“I think [the idea of making the NCAA Tournament] narrows down our focus,” said Pulliam. “I think it just gives us a goal to look forward to, and we know what it’s going to take to get there."
In the victory, Scheid cemented her place in the program’s history when she scored her 1,000th point with a three-pointer in the first quarter. She then continued forward, swishing five more three-pointers and grabbing seven rebounds along the way.
“I think any player would feel good after shooting 100 percent from the arc,” Scheid said. “I work a lot on my shot in practice, outside of practice, so it’s good to see it pay off.”
“Coming into college I was strictly a center,” she added. “I probably shot less than 10 threes in my high school career, which is crazy. I think that attests to what this program can do for you, too, and all the coaches that have helped me.”
“Being recruited I was told … ‘We want to develop your three-point [shot] more. We want you to be more confident out there.’”
Northwestern will be back in action on Thursday in East Lansing to take on Michigan State, hopefully with a number next to their name.
Stats provided by StatBroadcast