Cats Take Late Revival To Indiana (Women’s Basketball)

Matt Baker

By Matt BakerThe Daily Northwestern

Northwestern’s season seemed lost two weeks ago.

The Wildcats had dropped 18 straight games – the longest single-season losing streak in Big Ten history – and were getting blown out by double-digits nearly every game.

But NU has turned its season around. The Cats (8-20, 2-13 Big Ten) have won two of their last three games, including a 63-54 victory over Michigan in their home finale Sunday. NU’s last two losses were to No. 20 Michigan State by a combined 12 points.

Sophomore Kristin Cartwright said NU hopes to carry the confidence the team has gained into the Cats’ last regular season game tonight at Indiana (16-11, 5-9).

“We’ve built huge confidence from those wins,” Cartwright said. “And it’s a good point in the season to start having this momentum and this flow.”

Coach Beth Combs said the team has focused on grabbing more offensive rebounds than its opponents, getting to the free-throw line and winning the turnover battle the past few weeks.

In its first eight Big Ten games, NU committed an average of five more turnovers a game than its opponent. In the last seven, the Cats have forced five more turnovers per game than their opponents.

Despite the tangible differences in the boxscore, Combs said NU’s change of attitude has been the largest factor in the late-season turnaround.

“We haven’t changed anything,” Combs said. “It’s all been about the attitude, intensity and energy we’ve had these last two weeks.”

Players struggled early in the season to find their place on the team and in the starting rotation, Combs said. After NU dropped its first five conference games, Combs changed the starting line-up four times in five games before solidifying the rotations the past two weeks.

“It’s been a growing process all year,” Combs said. “They had to find their roles and identities on the team. But this team really stuck together and responded.”

As the team pieces its identity together, Cartwright said their cooperation has shown on the court.

The Cats lack the star power of teams like Ohio State, so NU needs the entire team to succeed if it hopes to win.