Women’s Basketball: A tale of two halves – Northwestern loses to Iowa

Colin Becht and Colin Becht

Northwestern didn’t simply let a 13-point second-half lead slip away on Sunday; the Wildcats all but unraveled in a matter of minutes. Thanks to an utter defensive collapse, NU gave away an 86-75 decision to Iowa at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

“The way we played in the second half was unacceptable,” senior point guard Beth Marshall said. “We went away from everything that was working for us in the first half.”

The Cats led by as many as 15 points but failed to contest shots after the break, enabling Iowa’s 63-point second-half scoring effort.

“We played no defense in the second half,” coach Joe McKeown said. “You don’t need Freud or Einstein to really break it down. We gave them wide open shots. I’m embarrassed by our defense in the second half.”

The Hawkeyes shot 70.4 percent from the floor in the second half and drained 7-of-10 3-pointers, allowing Iowa to take the lead with 14 minutes remaining in the second period and never look back.

“We got comfortable,” Marshall said. “We just kind of expected that they’d keep missing shots even if we weren’t contesting.”

Forward Kelly Krei and guards Kachine Alexander and Jaime Printy paced the Hawkeyes, contributing a combined 47 points in the second half alone.

Krei and Alexander showed an on-court chemistry that was missing in the first half. Both players scored just three points in the opening period but used a drive-and-dish game after the break that freed up Krei for three 3-pointers and Alexander for six jumpers.

Printy, who missed on all four of her attempts from behind the arc in the first half, drilled two threes in as part of the second half barrage.

Iowa didn’t miss a shot through almost the first seven minutes of the second half, transforming an 11-point halftime deficit into a one-point lead.

“It seemed like everybody wearing an Iowa uniform was making shots there for a stretch,” McKeown said. “(We played) no real great defense that would force them to miss. Contesting, getting through screens or whatever, we didn’t do any of those things.”

That streak of lights-out shooting, combined with a stagnant NU offense at the other end of the floor, enabled Iowa to go on a 16-0 run spanning over four minutes.

“We let their shooters get hot, and they went on a run,” Marshall said. “We didn’t guard their shooters all the way out to the three-point line. That killed us.”

As poorly as the Cats executed in the second half, NU mounted a suffocating defense in the first half, forcing a plethora of Iowa misses. NU held Iowa to just 29 percent shooting in the first half, while senior center Amy Jaeschke dominated in the post.

“We just contested every shot,” Marshall said. “We had a hand in shooters’ faces.”

Jaeschke scored 14 points in the first stanza while grabbing five rebounds and blocking three shots. She moved into second position in career rebounds at NU with her third rebound on Sunday.

Behind Jaeschke’s domination down low, NU led Iowa 18-10 on points in the paint after the first half while also scoring 13 second-chance points off of eight offensive boards. NU used a 19-2 run to build a 24-9 lead midway through the half, but Iowa clamped down on Jaeschke in the second half with double and triple teams that refused to let her get comfortable in the post.

Jaeschke scored just five points in the second half on 2-of-9 shooting and finished with 10 turnovers.

“They really packed it down low in the second half,” Jaeschke said.

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