Oct. 29, 2012
EVANSTON, Ill. - Northwestern Head Coach Joe McKeown took his squad for a four-game exhibition tour of Italy this summer, in part, to help blend a talented returning core with a gifted incoming freshman class. That team-building was evident in the squad's 91-34 victory on Saturday at Welsh-Ryan Arena over St. Francis (Ill.) in their first and only exhibition on American soil.
"I think it was a great experience on and off the court for us," McKeown said of his team's Roman Holiday. "From a basketball standpoint, it gave us a chance to blend together and gave people chances to play together who haven't in the past."
Northwestern scored the game's first 14 points on their way to a 25-5 advantage in the contest's first 10 minutes. The Wildcats outscored the Saints by a 60-6 margin in the paint, and earned a 35-0 edge in fast-break points in the win.
The newcomers looked right at home in their first game experience at Welsh-Ryan. Freshman forward Lauren Douglas led four Wildcats in double-figures with 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting, and added four rebounds and a steal in 21 minutes of action.
Classmate Maggie Lyon, a product of Wilmette's New Trier High School, filled up the scoresheet with nine points, three rebounds, a team-leading five assists and two steals. Fellow rookies Devon Brookshire and Christen Johnson each chipped in with eight points, while Johnson added four offensive rebounds and six overall.
The veterans had an opportunity to re-acquaint themselves with their home arena as well, as McKeown rotated his lineup so that nine different Wildcats saw at least 14 minutes of action.
Senior Kendall Hackney, one of the Big Ten's Top-7 returning scorers, was a perfect 5-of-5 from the field for 11 points and grabbed a pair of rebounds on both ends of the floor. Sophomore center Alex Cohen notched a team-high 11 rebounds and added three points, three assists, two steals and three blocks.
Northwestern's leading rebounder from a year ago, Dannielle Diamant
, recorded 11 points, six rebounds and five blocks. Guard Karly Roser
, third in the Conference last season with 4.7 assists per game as a true freshman, dished out a team-high five assists to go with 11 points.
The Wildcats will kick off the 2012-13 regular-season on Friday, November 9 at 2:00 p.m. CT when they welcome the University of Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks to Evanston. All told, Northwestern's first five games of the campaign will be played at Welsh-Ryan Arena.