‘Silly fouls’ assist in Wildcats Wild Win

By Nader Ihmoud

Freshman guards Karly Roser and Morgan Jones’ first game against their interstate rival, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Fighting

Illini, turned into a nail-biter.

The Northwestern University Wildcats lost a 10-point lead in the closing minutes of the second half but came out on top after Roser was fouled with two seconds remaining in the Jan. 16 game.

Roser’s last-second free throw put the Wildcats up 59-58 with two seconds remaining in regulation. Roser had only made five of 11 shots from the free throw line prior to being fouled during her team’s final possession.

“I was really trying to find [forward] Kendall [Hackney], who was perfect from the [free throw] line,” Roser said. “I didn’t want to take them in the first place. I was just happy that I got it in.”

After the Fighting Illini cut the Wildcats’ lead to 3, U of I Head Coach Jolette Law called a time-out and drew up a play for guard Amber Moore. U of I guard Lydia McCully found Moore open on the left wing, and she drilled the three–pointer with 12 seconds remaining in regulation.

“That’s what we’ve been practicing,” Law said. “Typically, in most situations, defenses don’t get a chance to set up.”

During a time-out following the 3-pointer, which tied the game at 58, Law told her team not to foul, but then they did.

“[During the] last three minutes, we made silly fouls,” Law said.

The Wildcats dominated early on with help from forward Dannielle Diamant, who led the team in scoring with 16 points and five blocks. Diamant and her teammates controlled the paint, outscoring the Fighting Illini 26-14.

Coming into the game, Law knew that her team was at a size disadvantage.

“They are very big,” she said. “We knew [the Wildcats’] front line was going to be big.”

She was especially aware of Diamant.

“She’s stronger and more physical than any one of my players,” Law said.

In the second half, Diamant fell into foul trouble that limited her playing time, but Hackney stepped up with her only two field goals of the game coming at pivotal moments.

“Hackney had a tough night, but she made a big, big shot,” said Wildcats Head Coach Joe McKeown.

Hackney missed her first seven shots, but the two 3-pointers she hit late in the second half helped her team build its largest lead of 10 points. McKeown said he was proud of his team’s ability to come away from the game on the winning end and gave credit to his bench for giving the team “good minutes.” But he also said his team has to improve on some aspects of its game moving forward.

“We got to do a better job of reversing the ball, screening people and moving and running our offense,” McKeown said.

The Wildcats are now 2-4 in Big Ten Conference play after losing to the University of Michigan Wolverines on Jan.19. The team looks to improve its conference play record at home against the Purdue University Boilermakers Jan. 26.