Northwestern Wildcats women's basketball

Northwestern Wildcats women's basketball
2015–16 Northwestern Wildcats women's basketball team
University Northwestern University
Conference Big Ten
Location Evanston, IL
Head coach Joe McKeown (8th year)
Arena Welsh-Ryan Arena
(Capacity: 8,117)
Nickname Wildcats
Student section Wildside
Colors Purple and White[1]
NCAA/AIAW Tournament second round
1980, 1987, 1991, 1993
NCAA/AIAW Tournament appearances
1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1987, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1997, 2015
Conference tournament champions

The Northwestern Wildcats women's basketball team is the intercollegiate women's basketball program representing Northwestern University. The school competes in the Big Ten Conference in Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The Wildcats play home basketball games at the Welsh-Ryan Arena on the university campus in Evanston, Illinois.[2]


Early years (1975–1984)

The Wildcats began play in women's basketball in 1975, with Mary DiStanislao as the first head coach, who coached for five seasons, with the final two resulting in appearances in the AIAW Tournament. In 1980, Annette Lynch took over as head coach, leading the team to postseason appearances (AIAW and NCAA) in her first two seasons, with the latter (1981) being the first season in the Big Ten Conference.

Don Perrelli era (1985–1999)

In 1984, Don Perrelli became head coach of the Wildcats. In his 15 year tenure, he led the team to 5 appearances in the NCAA Tournament, a Big Ten title in 1989 (with a 24–5 record, 15–3 conference record, which remains their only conference title), and a NWIT appearance. Perrelli retired after the 1998–99 season.

Decline (1999–2008)

June Olkowski took over, coaching Northwestern for five seasons, but she was fired after finishing 10th or worse each time, never winning more than three conference games. Beth Combs was hired to coach the Wildcats in 2004, but she was fired after four seasons, highlighted with winning only 7 conference games in 4 years and never finishing higher than 10th place.

Joe McKeown era (2008–present)

Joe McKeown was hired for the 2008 season. After a 10th place finish in his first season, they finished tied for 8th in the conference (good enough to qualify for the WNIT) the following season, their highest finish since the 1998 season. After appearing in the WNIT twice in the following four seasons, the Wildcats returned to the NCAA Women's Division I Basketball Tournament in 2015, their first appearance since 1997, in a season where they had their highest finish in the conference (1994) since 1996. [3]

All-Time Statistical Leaders

Career leaders

Single season leaders

Single game leaders

Big Ten Medal of Honor

Coaching history

Coach Years Record Conference
Mary DiStanislao 1975–1980 75–42 0–0
Annette Lynch 1980–1984 89–30 32–15
Don Perrelli 1984–1999 251–181 135–126 1
June Olkowski 1999–2004 31–108 7–73
Beth Combs 2004–2008 24–95 7–59
Joe McKeown 2008–present 111–110 42–76
Totals 581–566 253–419 1


NCAA Women's Division I Basketball Championship

Year Round Opponent Result
1982 First Round North Carolina State L 73–71
1987 First Round
Second Round
Kansas State
Louisiana Tech
W 62–61 (OT)
L 82–60
1990 First Round South Carolina L 76–67
1991 First Round
Second Round
Washington State
W 82–62
L 105–68
1993 First Round
Second Round
Georgia Tech
W 90–62
L 89–66
1997 First Round George Washington L 61–46
2015 First Round Arkansas L 57–55

NIT results

The Wildcats have appeared in the Women's National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) three times, having a combined record of 5–3. They also appeared in the National Women's Invitational Tournament (the precursor to the WNIT, with 8 teams instead of the traditional 64 the WNIT has) once, having a record of 3–1.

Year Round Opponent Result
1996 Quarterfinals
Illinois State
Louisiana State
W 93–71
W 79–75
L 79–63
2010 First Round
Second Round
Third Round
St. Bonaventure
W 79–72
W 66–62
L 65–44
2011 First Round
Second Round
W 89–63
L 72–70
2014 First Round
Second Round
Third Round
Ball State
W 69–55
W 88–52
L 66–65

AIAW Women's Basketball Tournament

The Wildcats appeared in the AIAW Women's Basketball Tournament (the precursor to the modern NCAA Women's Division I Basketball Championship) three times (the first being in a 16 team tournament and the latter two being in a 24 team tournament) before it was discontinued in 1982. They compiled a record of 1–3. They received a bye in 1980.

Year Round Opponent Result
1979 First Round
Southern Connecticut State
Louisiana Tech
W 67–61
L 88–52
1980 Second Round South Carolina L 64–61
1981 First Round Stephen F. Austin L 88–67


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