March 12, 2012
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern opened the 2011-12 season with its best performance--9-1--under head coach Joe McKeown and its best start through 10 games since the 1995-96 season. The Wildcats' strong start in non-conference play included notable wins against then-No. 20 LSU in Baton Rouge and victories in the Big Ten/ACC and Big Ten/Challenge over NC State and Missouri.
The game against the Wolfpack, however, proved to be bittersweet as senior captain Brittany Orban tore her ACL and was sidelined for the remainder of the season. With Orban out, Northwestern turned to younger team members to help fill the nearly irreplaceable void left by Orban's on-court absence.
Freshmen Karly Roser and Morgan Jones became consistent contributors for the Wildcats during the season. Roser and Jones were instrumental in every game for NU and combined for Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors five times. Roser started every game for the `Cats and finished the year ranked fourth in the Big Ten and 49th in the nation with 4.8 assists per game. Jones was the second leading scorer for the Wildcats with 14.1 points per game and third in rebounds averaging 6.0 per game.
During Big Ten play, the 'Cats had two notable victories over in-state rival Illinois and new conference foe Nebraska. Roser hit a free throw with 2.6 seconds left to put the 'Cats ahead 59-58 and seal the victory against the Illini. In Lincoln, the 'Cats decisive 64-51 victory over then-No. 16 Nebraska was a result of a 45 percent field goal effort while holding the Huskers to just 28 percent shooting from the floor. Juniors Danielle Diamant and Kendall Hackney combined for 35 points in the win.
Diamant and Hackney were crucial to Northwestern's offensive success this season. Hackney lead the team in scoring and finished the season ranked 9th in the conference with 15.2 points a game. She reached two personal milestones in her junior year, netting her 1,000th point vs. Purdue (1/26/12) and grabbing her 500th rebound vs. Penn State (2/12/12). Diamant, meanwhile, averaged 13.9 points per game and recorded a team-high 6.7 rebounds a game. She recorded four double-doubles on the year and had a career high 23 points vs. Ohio State (1/12/12).
Three Wildcats garnered All-Conference honors for their performances during the season. Diamant was voted third-team All-Big Ten by the coaches and Honorable Mention by the media, and Hackney joined her in receiving the honorable mention nod from the media. Morgan Jones was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman roster and voted Honorable Mention by the coaches.
McKeown added to the list of individual accolades as he was inducted into the George Washington Hall of Fame in February. McKeown is George Washington's all-time winningest coach and was a five-time recipient of the Atlantic 10's Coach of the Year award.
Though the season might not have turned out as planned, the culture in Evanston has begun to change as this year's seniors Allison Mocchi, Tailor Jones and Orban are the winningest senior class since 1996-97. The seniors have helped tally 51 victories during their tenure and guided the Wildcats to back-to-back postseason appearances.
The `Cats return four starters for the 2012-13 season and welcome three talented newcomers.