Wildcats Fall Despite Late Comeback (Women’s Basketball)

Matt Baker

By Matt BakerThe Daily Northwestern

The game looked over with four minutes left in the first half.

No. 24 Michigan State’s Victoria Lucas-Perry had solely outscored Northwestern 19-16, and the Spartans held a 20-point lead Thursday night in East Lansing, Mich.

But a furious NU comeback cut the lead to two with a minute left in the game, but the Spartans made clutch free-throws down the stretch to beat the Cats 68-63.

Lucas-Perry lit up the Cats’ defense from the opening tip. She drained a 3 on the game’s first shot to give Michigan State a 3-0 lead 13 seconds into the game.

After NU (7-20, 1-13 Big Ten) took a 5-3 lead, Lucas-Perry sparked the Spartans with back-to-back shots. Lucas-Perry made four of her first five 3-pointers and seven of her first eight shots.

“She was just hitting all of her shots,” said sophomore Kristin Cartwright. “We had to make her get harder shots. We needed better team defense and the help-side defense wasn’t there.”

Behind Lucas-Perry’s shooting, Michigan State (20-6, 11-2) went on an 18-4 run and held the Cats scoreless for 5:28. A jumper by sophomore Julie Bielawski with 13 minutes left cut the Spartans’ lead to 19-7.

The teams traded baskets until NU went cold again, going without a basket for another five minutes. NU shot just 9 of 31 in the first half.

“We just weren’t aggressive,” coach Beth Combs said. “We came out in the first half and were just flat on everything.”

Michigan State extended its lead to 20 points with four minutes left in the half, but the Cats kept fighting.

Senior A.J. Glasauer and freshman Beth Marshall scored four points each to close the half on an 8-0 NU run.

“Sadly, we’ve been in that situation before,” Glasauer said. “But we’ve shown all season that we can come back. We stayed positive because we know we can turn it around at any point.”

NU continued its comeback in the second half behind its 64 percent shooting in the second half. Glasauer made a 3 with 8:59 left to put NU within five, 48-43. Glasauer led NU with 18 points.

Combs said the Cats also picked up their defensive energy to hold Lucas-Perry to one second-half field goal and made the game close.

“We came out in the second half with a lot more intensity,” Combs said. “We made some plays. We made some defensive stops. We were able to attack offensively. But it wasn’t enough.”

Glasauer made a jumper with 57 seconds left to cut the deficit to two. But after Michigan State’s Allyssa DeHaan missed a shot, she grabbed one of the Spartans’ 15 offensive rebounds and NU was forced to foul to stop the clock with a foul.

Michigan State held a 36-30 edge over NU on the boards and blocked the undersized Cats eight times.

Michigan State made all eight of its free-throws in the final 30 seconds – including four by Lucas-Perry – to seal the win. Lucas-Perry led the Spartans with 25 points.

Glasauer said the team will take momentum from Thursday’s close loss into Sunday’s game against Michigan. The match-up is the Cats’ last home game of the season and the last home match of Glasauer’s career.

“A win would be a nice present,” Glasauer said. “Our whole team deserves it. To win our last home game would put a more positive note on the whole season.”

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