Wildcat players huddle on Thursday night against Lewis. The team earned their second win of the week on Sunday, and first of the regular season. Photo by Brandi Simpson / North By Northwestern

There's a Wildcat win!

To redeem a Family Weekend that was an overall mess for Northwestern sports, women’s basketball (1-0) defeated Loyola-Maryland (0-2) 67-46 in the Wildcats’ season-opener at Welsh-Ryan Arena on Sunday night. Even with some hiccups on offense, the ’Cats weren’t rattled by the Greyhounds, and picked up the victory they needed before having to travel out of town for their next two games. Junior Lindsey Pulliam (4 ast, 4 reb) led all scorers with 25 points on 8-for-21 shooting, while senior Abbie Wolf (6 reb) pitched in 14 on a 5-for-7 clip.

Aside from a sudden peak of offensive explosion, the first half of the game was mostly dull scoring-wise. The Wildcats held the Greyhounds to just one field goal in the first six minutes of the game, but also missed their first 11 shots from the field. Pulliam and junior Jordan Hamilton (2 pts, 2 ast) attempted nearly all of the team’s shots during the early drought, and it took Pulliam to land her sixth attempt (a three-pointer) to open up scoring for the Wildcats five minutes in.

Once Northwestern continued to make shots and jumped out to a lead, Loyola also found their poise on offense. For about three minutes—from the end of the first quarter to the beginning of the second—the two teams combined for 16 points. But that momentum couldn’t be sustained. Those 16 points ended up being a third of the total points scored in the half (48), as the two teams again fell into dry spells with difficulty maintaining possession of the ball.

Despite their scoring difficulties, the Wildcats led by 12 at halftime. Pulliam and Jordan combined for 20 shots—over half of the team’s 36 combined—but only had nine points together. Rather, senior Abi Scheid (10 pts, 2 reb, 4 ast) paced Northwestern with eight points on 3-for-4 shooting, making all three of her shots in the first quarter.

Early in the third quarter, the ’Cats struggled to score beyond layups, but eventually found more success from outside the paint. And whenever Loyola attempted to inch back into the game with a basket, Northwestern answered with points of their own. Pulliam in particular had a strong quarter, contributing 11 points to add to her first half.

The fourth quarter saw the Wildcats continue to pull away from the Greyhounds. While both teams ramped up their scoring paces, in no small part thanks to a high amount of free throws coming from fouls, the game was secured and the first win tallied on Northwestern’s season.

"It's the first game, so we're a little rough coming in," said Pulliam about the team's slow scoring start. "I think we just got comfortable within the game and everyone started making shots."

"The shots that we missed were great shots by great shooters," said head coach Joe McKeown. "I knew that would eventually work itself out. I just wanted to make sure we rebounded and defended them, and I thought we did a pretty solid job there."

Women’s basketball will next face Marquette (3-0) at Milwaukee on Thursday night.

Game stats and details collected by SIDEARM Sports

Quotes collected from Northwestern Athletics: players post-game interview, coaches post-game interview