"It's great to play local competition," said NU junior forward Kendall Hackney. "Loyola is a great program and it's nice to play a cross-town shootout. I really enjoy coming here to play."
Hackney also enjoyed a strong second half, posting 14 points in the half after scuffling in the first half. She would finish with a season-high 20 points. Hackney's efforts were key in the Wildcats taking control.
"We need her," said NU head coach Joe McKeown. "We need her offensive fire power and we need her presence as a junior who has had so much success as a college player so far. She had a rough week—she had a family death and was gone all week—hadn't practiced. When we needed her, she really stepped up."
After a back-and-forth first half, Northwestern managed to separate from the Ramblers in the second half, building a 15-point lead with less than three minutes remaining.
Loyola closed the game on a 15-5 run, which cut its deficit to five points, but the final horn ended the Ramblers' comeback attempt.
"The biggest thing was just being able to score when they scored," said McKeown. "Not allowing them to go on any type of 10-0 run. They just got hot, started drilling threes left and right. I was disappointed we didn't do a better job, to be honest with you."
The Wildcats shot 13-28 from the field in the second half, after struggling in the first half. NU buckled down on defense in the second half, holding the Ramblers to 12-33 from the field, after they shot 50 percent in the first half.
After a one-week layoff due to finals, the Wildcats now prepare for a span of four games in 10 days. Northwestern returns to Welsh-Ryan Arena on Wednesday afternoon to play Morgan State, before traveling to Las Vegas for the "Duel in the Desert."