Evanston, IL -- For Wildcat fans, Sunday's exhibition against Seton Hill was the first glance they would get at last years' NCAA tournament team. Joe McKeown's 19th ranked Wildcats came out in dominant fashion defeating Seton Hill by a final score of 103-44.
"It's a new season; we had a great year last year. You want to use that as a springboard, but we are a new team playing a little bit different than last year," McKeown said.
Northwestern picked up right where they left off jumping to an early 17-3 lead over the Griffins with just 6:15 left in the first quarter. A steal by Ashley Deary induced a Christen Johnson layup to force a Seton Hill timeout early in the first quarter.
The Griffins defense could not quiet Northwestern, who got into the bonus with just over three minutes left the play in the first quarter. Seton Hill switched to a 3-2 zone defense, but the speedy Wildcat offense continued to thrive ending the first quarter leading the Griffins 25-7.
Team captains, Maggie Lyon and Nia Coffey, paced the way for the Wildcats scoring 27 of Northwestern's 46 points in the first half. For the Griffins, Lindsey Misfud had five of the team's fifteen points before heading to the locker room.
Seton Hill struggled to find an answer to Northwestern's defense which forced the Griffins to thirteen turnovers in the first half. Ashley Deary played a key role in forcing Seton Hill turnovers. The junior, who last year, ranked second in the Big Ten in steals, had five steals in just the first half.
She's a thief. Always has been," McKeown said on Deary. "That is what makes her a special player. We saw last year when she was able to defensively take people out of the game. I am excited now that she is a junior, and we will get to see her doing more of that."
In the second half, despite their 31-point lead, the Wildcat dominance did not fade. Coffey, a preseason All-Big Ten Team selection, paced the way offensively ending the day with 29 points, 18 of which came in the second half.
"Nia Coffey is evolving as a player," McKeown said. "She's one of the best players in the Big Ten and in the country, and I thought she did a great job today."
On the defensive end, Northwestern held the Griffins to FILL IN HERE points. Ashely Deary had ten steals, contributing to the teams' 18 steals on the day.
For Seton Hill, Alexandria Deep paced the way offensively with 13 points. The Wildcats went on to beat Seton Hill by a final of 103-44.
Coach McKeown mentioned that although Northwestern returns 11 players from last season, they will still need to rely on their three freshmen as the season progresses.
"Our freshmen are doing well," McKeown said. "They did two things well today. Number one, they found Welsh-Ryan Arena. The second thing they did well was they showed up on time. They are going to go through some roller coasters, but they did well, and I am really excited for them."
Northwestern hosts their season opener next Sunday taking on Howard at 6 pm.