Nov. 7, 2008
EVANSTON, Ill. - With the regular season only a week away, the Wildcats took to the court against the UW-Parkside Rangers in the lone exhibition game of the season. From the opening tip to the final buzzer, the `Cats came out with renewed energy, downing Parkside, 74-34 Friday night at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Sophomore Amy Jaeschke (Wilmette, Ill., New Trier) led all scorers with 18 points, while freshman Brittany Orban (North Canton, Ohio, Hoover) contributed 12.
"Amy is doing a great job of adjusting," said head coach Joe McKeown. "She's becoming more dominant, becoming a more physical player down low."
The 'Cats exploded from the opening whistle, as junior Kristin Cartwright (Lake Forest, Ill., Lake Forest) took the tip all the way down the floor for a quick bucket. Northwestern maintained its intensity throughout the first half, feeding the offense through Jaeschke while stifling the Rangers on defense.
Jaeschke put the Wildcats up 11-3 with a little less than 12 minutes remaining in the first stanza. Freshman Maggie Mocchi (Wheeling, Ill., Buffalo Grove) kicked-off her career with four rebounds and four points in seven minutes of first half action.
McKeown employed a full-court press with great success. Back-to-back takeaways by sophomore Meshia Reed (Country Club Hills, Ill., Stockbridge (Ga.)) helped put the 'Cats up 17-4. Orban found the hoop several times as well, walking away with five points and two rebounds in the opening 20 minutes. Northwestern's stifling defense held the Rangers to a 23.8 percent shooting effort en route to a dominating 32-16 halftime advantage.
"The thing about my freshmen is that they play really hard," said McKeown in reference to Mocchi and Orban. "They're tough kids and you just can't teach that."
Jaeschke sank the first three baskets of the second half for the `Cats, who opened up the lead to 20 points after only three minutes of play. Parkside looked to the three to claw their way back into the game. Amanda Gibson was able to knock one down, but the Northwestern defense continued to disrupt the Ranger's offensive flow. Playing with aggression and strength, Orban lit up the scoreboard with six second-half points, as Northwestern emptied their bench in the 40-point win.
"It's great to get started, I'm excited to be the coach here," said McKeown. "I really like the kids. They're trying hard. It's going to be a fun year."
The Wildcats open the 2008-09 campaign next Friday, Nov. 14 when they travel to Chicago to face the cougars of Chicago State in a 6 p.m. showdown.