Wildcats Edge Illinois State

The Northwestern women's basketball team took to Welsh-Ryan arena for their third game in six days Thursday night and came away with a 69-62 victory over the Illinois State Red Birds, vaulting the Wildcats to 3-0 on the year.

Leading the charge for Northwestern were their three starting forwards; Dannielle Diamant recorded a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds while Kendall Hackney and Brittany Orban scored 14 points a piece.

"A strong inside presence really opens up the outside," Orban said. "That's going to be something, no matter who you are playing, you're going to look for. We have a strong inside presence with Dannielle and Kendall and Alex [Cohen] so we just have to continue to work on that no matter who we're playing."

Play around the perimeter was a different story. The ‘Cats struggled, shooting only three of thirteen from beyond the arch, while Illinois State excelled, shooting 47.6 percent from three-point range.

"We were prepared for it," NU head coach Joe McKeown said. "We had some breakdowns. They also made tough shots."

NU also struggled to make use of players coming off the bench, who shot just three of 10 for six points, which McKeown attributed to communication breakdowns.

"We're playing a lot of different people, a lot of different positions," he said. "We just haven't had enough practice time with different line-ups. They're things I think we're capable of cleaning up."

The Wildcats' inside presence though, led by Diamant, proved too much for Illinois State. NU controlled the boards and had 43 rebounds to Illinois State's 34 with 15 of those coming on offense.

"The plays Brittany Orban makes around the basket are just pure energy and hustle," McKeown said. "I think Danielle is one of the most improved players in college basketball."

After a quick spurt of games, NU will not take the court again until next week when they play at LSU.

On the road for only the second time this season, the ‘Cats will face a tough atmosphere and a tough team; LSU is currently ranked number 20 in the nation.

"It's always a tough battle," Orban said. "Now that we're going into their place, we'll have to be ready for a crowd that's against us, but go down there and give it our best. No team is unbeatable right now."

That game will tip off next Tuesday at 7 p.m. CT.

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