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

The Daily Northwestern

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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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Women’s Basketball Sidebar: Clutch Cats consistent down stretch

Thursday night’s 78-73 overtime win against Indiana guaranteed Northwestern its first winning regular season record in more than a decade. The Wildcats punctuated their accomplishment with the most memorable game they’ve played all year. In the last five-and-a-half minutes, there were seven lead changes or ties.

“That’s an understatement,” junior point guard Beth Marshall said of the notion that it was a wild game.

In one sense NU had no business coming away with the victory. After getting off to a hot start, the Cats’ offense stagnated. For a 10-minute stretch from the end of the first half until almost midway through the second period, they were 1-of-17 from the field and scored three points.

Considering NU was leading by just one point at the start of the drought, that kind of performance could have resulted in an Indiana blowout. But the Hoosiers weren’t shooting well either, and Marshall’s 3-pointer to snap the Cats out of their slump cut the deficit to a manageable six points.

“Personally I was thinking, ‘I’m tired of being down eight or nine points the entire game,'” said Marshall, who finished with a career-high 26 points and shot 6-of-7 from beyond the arc. “So whatever we had to do-if it’s me shooting or me passing or me screening-I was going to do it so we could cut that lead little by little.”

Part of the reason NU struggled to score was its inability to capitalize on its height advantage down low. At 6-foot-5, sophomore center Amy Jaeschke was the tallest player on the court, yet she didn’t even pull down a rebound in the first half.

The Cats crashed the glass, finishing with 20 offensive boards, but they couldn’t convert their extra opportunities. Not once did an NU player put a rebound back up and make an easy bucket.

“Indiana did a good job when we got an offensive rebound of not fouling us,” coach Joe McKeown said. “They did a good job of slapping the ball, getting the ball clean, making it tough. We missed some easy bunnies.”

Once the Cats broke their long string of misses, everything started to go their way. They worked the ball inside more effectively and took their first lead of the second half on Jaeschke’s layup with 4:40 left. The Hoosiers quickly regained control, building a six-point edge inside of the two-minute mark.

Then the same team that seemed to be playing with a lid on the rim earlier in the half found a way to make its last five shots to send the game into overtime.

“Just how we strung a bunch of plays together at the end was amazing,” Jaeschke said. “It was so much fun to see everyone step up and make huge plays.”

Freshman center Dannielle Diamant sank a trey from the corner that sliced the deficit in half, and freshman forward Kendall Hackney, who started 3-of-17 from the field, followed with a jumper from each elbow to bring NU within one. The Hoosiers kept making their free throws, and the Cats’ comeback chances took a hit when junior guard Meshia Reed converted only one of her two attempts at the line with 25 seconds to go.

Trailing by four after Indiana hit another pair of foul shots, NU got a crucial contribution from an unlikely source. Senior guard Kristin Cartwright hadn’t made a field goal all night, but Reed found her in the right corner for a 3-pointer that gave the Cats hope.

It was still a one-possession game after the Hoosiers hit two more free throws. As the clock wound down, Reed penetrated and dished out to Marshall on the perimeter for the game-tying score.

“Meshia is one heck of a driver; she is a threat,” Marshall said. “I was not surprised when they sent more than one person at her.”

NU’s good fortune continued in the extra session, as Indiana shot 1-of-13 and missed multiple layups. After suffering through a slew of hard-luck losses last year, it was only fitting for the Cats to usher in their new winning ways by coming out on the right side of a thrilling game.[email protected]

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Women’s Basketball Sidebar: Clutch Cats consistent down stretch