A Marie Hunkeler jumper with 2:35 left got Northwestern back to nine, 27-16, but that would be the closest the Tigers could get before halftime.
Despite losing by 27 and 18 points the first two times Northwestern played Western this season, Layden said she felt confident about the game. In the end, Western hit enough big shots to turn the tide.
“We had a winning season,” Layden said. “I didn’t feel like we came into this game thinking we were going to get beat. Obviously we came in with a game plan and we tried to execute it. They knocked down some shots and that’s going to win you the ball game.”
The Panthers held Northwestern to 1 of 8 shooting in the third quarter. By the time Kaitlynd Lear hit a 12-foot jumper with 30 seconds left in the period, Western had built a 41-20 advantage. The Tigers finished the game with 27 turnovers in all.
“Once we got the lead we tried to limit their possessions,” Keisling said. “We knew that Northwestern would be hungry to come in and play a good game. In the third quarter focused on one particular defense.
“We thought the pressure really made the difference. We changed a lot the first half but third quarter we went more with our three-quarter court backed with our 23 and just stayed with that. Then we patched up any little errors we made in the first half. We have a lot of three and four-year starters so that makes a difference.”
Carley O’Neal led the Panthers with 12 point while senior Allison Lindley added 10 more.
“This is the third time we’ve played them so we knew how they were going to play us,” Lindley said. “We just wanted to keep the pressure up and not let them back in the game.”