ORANGE CITY, Iowa -- Sammy Blum got it going from beyond the arc early, setting the pace for Northwestern in an 87-65 Great Plains Athletic Conference women’s basketball victory over Briar Cliff Wednesday at the Bultman Center.
Blum nailed four of her seven 3-pointers in the first quarter, staking the No. 5 (NAIA Division II) Red Raiders to a 29-14 lead. Northwestern went on a 14-2 run the final four minutes of the quarter.
Although Briar Cliff scored 11 points in a row and pulled within 29-23 with six minutes left in the half, Northwestern went on another 9-0 spurt, once again opening up a 15-point advantage.
“We were super aggressive in the first quarter and found Sammy open on the arc,” Northwestern Coach Chris Yaw said. “I thought the second half we were still aggressive but far more patient and still got some of those similar looks.”
All five starters reached double figures as Northwestern won its eighth straight game, moving to 11-1 overall and 7-1 in the GPAC.
Darbi Gustafson led the way with 24 points, making 9-of-12 shots, while Blum scored all 21 of her points from long range, cashing in on 7-of-13 3-pointers.
“My teammates are always encouraging me to shoot the ball and that’s always a confidence booster,” Blum said. “I can’t get the makes without them getting the good passes to me.”
Haley Birks and Breana Schuiteman chipped in 11 points each while Kassidy De Jong -- the team’s leading scorer with a 20-point average -- finally found her rhythm in the fourth quarter to extend a streak of double-figure effort in every game this season, finishing with 11 points.
“It was another good balanced night, we had quite a few turnovers (26) but also quite a few assists (23),” Yaw said. “We moved the ball pretty well and the balance just kind of comes through doing that. They’re unselfish kids that are trying to play good basketball and we had different kids make shots at different times in this one.”
Northwestern had a 39-29 halftime lead, then shot 59 percent while outscoring the Chargers 48-36 in the second half.
Gustafson just missed a double-double with nine rebounds while Blum dished out five assists.
Briar Cliff, 7-5 overall and 3-5 in the GPAC, got 18 points from senior Taylor Wagner, but little else on the offensive end. BCU turned it over 32 times and was 5 of 11 from the arc compared to 13 of 30 for Northwestern.
Northwestern has reeled off eight in a row since its only loss, a narrow 76-73 setback at defending national champion Dakota Wesleyan.
“If we just take one game at a time and work hard every day in practice, that’s how you get wins,” Blum said.