Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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NU can’t capitalize on 21 TOs (Women’s Basketball)

INDIANAPOLIS – After grabbing control of an Illinois turnover, Ifeoma Okonkwo split two Illini defenders with 45.9 seconds left in the opening round of the Big Ten tournament Thursday night. The good play ended there when she shot a layup that didn’t find the hoop.

When Illinois’ Audrey Tabon got the rebound, the Wildcats’ fate was sealed. They would go on to lose 60-49, ending their season.

The Okonkwo miss was one of many instances where NU could not convert an Illinois turnover into a basket.

“I think that was huge,” NU coach Beth Combs said. “We were not able to capitalize on runs that we made, and obviously that comes back to haunt us.”

The Illini committed 21 turnovers, but the Cats turned their opponents’ sloppy ball handling into a mere 16 points. The second half was particularly frustrating for NU as Illinois turned the ball over seven times before the Cats finally turned the ensuing possession into a score.

In three instances NU gave the ball right back, but more often they found themselves missing shots after forcing turnovers in crucial junctures of the second half.

“We had a run there that could have tied it up or put us up two,” Combs said. “We missed two straight layups and it kind of escalated from there. That’s been our season.

“All year we have one person step up in a game, someone plays a tremendous game, but we all look around and watch her, and the other four people on the floor are not able to produce.”

While Combs said that an inability to convert turnovers played a large role in the loss, the Cats were not the only team unable to make good on their opportunities.

NU gave the ball away 17 times, but Illinois was only able to rack up 16 points of their own.

“I think that went both ways,” Illinois coach Theresa Grentz said. “We had a couple of fastbreaks back-to-back where we throw an errant cross-court bounce pass that had no business being thrown.”

Thursday’s game was one of the rare occasions for NU when it came away winning the turnover battle this season. Unfortunately for the Cats, the Illini recovered after most of their offensive miscues. Illinois’ defense prevented the Cats from converting turnovers into the advantage that they needed to pull off the victory.

“When we were floundering we were able to right the ship from the defensive side,” Grentz said. “That made this a real positive.”

Reach David Kalan at [email protected].

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NU can’t capitalize on 21 TOs (Women’s Basketball)