Late shooting slump ends Cats’ run against Badgers

Colin Becht

Propelled by the strength of five first-half 3-pointers, Northwestern trailed the Badgers by just three at halftime at Welsh-Ryan Arena on Sunday afternoon. When the threes stopped connecting in the second half, so did the Wildcats, triggering their 62-50 defeat.

After senior guard Beth Marshall connected on a 3-pointer to put the Cats up 45-42, NU went ice cold from the field, allowing Wisconsin to dominate the final 10 minutes of the game and cruise to victory. With the Cats shooting 3-for-13 from the field and 1-of-8 from the behind the arc, the Badgers went on a 20-5 run.

“They hit key shots when they had to,” coach Joe McKeown said. “They shot it well from behind the three, and (it was a) tough five minute stretch for us.”

Wisconsin similarly lived by the 3-pointer, but contrary to the Cats, the Badgers never cooled off. Wisconsin sank 10-of-20 threes and shot a higher percentage outside the arc than inside it. While teams this season have shot on average 36.2 percent on threes against NU, Wisconsin made 54.5 percent of its first-half attempts from outside.

“(Wisconsin) made some tough shots in the first half,” McKeown said.

Guard Taylor Wurtz, whose 14 first-half points accounted for half of the Badgers’ first period total, got all but two of her total for the night on 3-point shooting. The sophomore hit four 3-pointers while going 0-for-2 on the game from inside the arc.

“We didn’t come off screens like we should have,” senior guard Meshia Reed said of Wisconsin’s success behind the arc. “Our communication went down.”

Wurtz wasn’t the only Wisconsin player to punish NU with outside shooting; guard Alyssa Karel added three triples on her way to 17 points.

“Karel hit a couple of big shots off screens,” McKeown said. “We didn’t do a very good job.”

Even post player Lin Zastrow joined the 3-point barrage, nailing her only try from long range.

As the Cats fell behind by six with two and a half minutes to play, the 3-point shooting streak that had allowed NU to keep pace with Wisconsin finally ended. The Cats missed their final five 3-point attempts of the game.

NU found success early, working an inside-outside game between Reed and senior center Amy Jaeschke. Jaeschke, the Big Ten’s leading scorer, drew double-teams, preventing her from finding good scoring opportunities but leaving Reed open. That inside-outside game translated into eight first-half points for Reed, including two 3-pointers. Reed missed both of her 3-point tries in the second half.

“We steered away from it in the second half,” Reed said. “We should have stuck with it.”

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