Turnovers, missed rebounds haunt Cats in loss, season (Women’s Basketball)

Jimmy Mitchell

Going into the Big Ten tournament, Northwestern had an opportunity to redeem its one-win conference season with an upset victory over sixth-seeded Indiana.

But no such atonement occurred Thursday, as NU finished its disappointing season with a 74-52 blowout loss to the Hoosiers in Indianapolis.

Indiana (18-13, 10-8 Big Ten) will face Purdue on Friday as the Wildcats (5-26, 1-17) head home from the single-game elimination tournament.

The Hoosiers set the tone early Thursday, as Indiana forward Amber Jackson recorded seven straight points before NU was able to score any of its own.

“I don’t think it was one of our best games,” freshman center Amy Jaeschke said.

The first half woes continued for NU, as Indiana went on an 11-4 run to increase their lead to 14 with 10 minutes left in the half.

The Cats cut into the Hoosiers’ lead with a 6-0 run of their own, but NU did not get within eight points the remainder of the game.

As the Hoosiers went into halftime with a 38-24 lead, it seemed as if it was only a matter of time before the Cats would be eliminated from tournament contention.

“Obviously it’s not what we had hoped for,” sophomore guard Jenny Eckhart said. “We had hoped for a win. It was just the little things that keep getting us, rebounds, turnovers. I guess the same things that have plagued us the whole year continued to in this game.”

The ball seemed to be continually out of the Cats’ grasp, as NU’s 19 turnovers exceeded Indiana’s 12. The Hoosiers also doubled NU’s four offensive rebounds by grabbing eight of their own.

Eckhart’s play was one of the lone bright spots for the Cats in their defeat. She led NU with 13 points, tied for her career high. Eckhart also grabbed seven rebounds and dished out three assists.

“A couple of my shots fell today, and of course I’m happy about that,” Eckhart said. “But I think I could have played better. I always think I could have played better. But I guess it wasn’t the worse game to go out on, so there’s maybe a little bit of positivity in that.

“But I still wish we would have gotten the win.”

Jaeschke’s post presence was also felt Thursday, as the member of the 2007-08 All-Big Ten All-Freshman Team recorded a team-high eight rebounds along with 11 points.

But Indiana’s solid defensive play kept NU’s offense floundering and unable to get into its rhythm, Jaeschke said.

Despite Thursday’s disappointing finish, Eckhart said the team improved throughout the course of the season.

“Obviously the season didn’t go as we had hoped it would,” she said. “We had some pretty high expectations, and I think they were legitimate expectations with the talent that we have on our team.

“But at the same time, even though we didn’t have a very good record, we did make some strides in some areas of the game that just don’t show up in the win-loss column.”

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