Women’s Basketball: ‘Careless’ play costs Wildcats against Wolverines

Kevin Trahan

Despite a hot-shooting comeback run in the second half, Northwestern could not overcome a poor first half and overall sloppy game, falling to Michigan 58-48 on Thursday at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

The Wildcats (12-7, 2-4 Big Ten) turned the ball over 18 times in the first half, while scoring just 15 points in the first 20 minutes. They shot 36.5 percent for the game, including an 11-minute-and-41-second timeframe that spanned both halves in which they scored just two points.

“I was just disappointed in the way we played the last eight or nine minutes of the first half,” coach Joe McKeown said.

Michigan (15-4, 4-2) shot poorly overall as well, finishing at 37.3 percent from the floor, but the Wolverines were able to overcome a slow start and take advantage of the Cats’ scoring drought.

“We were very lethargic; we couldn’t get anything going at all,” Michigan coach Kevin Borseth said. “The defense did a good job keeping us in there when offense was playing poorly.”

The Wolverines’ offense got into a flow in the second half, scoring 34 points, and while the Cats added 33 in the second half, it was too little too late. Freshman guard Morgan Jones had a team-high 14 points, while junior forwards Dannielle Diamant and Kendall Hackney added 12 and 13, respectively. However, it was not enough to overcome a poor first half.

Jones said NU’s offensive struggles were more due to the Cats beating themselves than they were to the Wolverines’ defense.

“It was just a rough night,” she said. “We were all getting open looks, but shots weren’t falling and that happens sometimes. We could have attacked the basket better. We didn’t get to the line enough.”

Thursday’s game was the second in three contests in which the Cats were able to go on a run in the second half but could not come away with a win. They played Ohio State close for much of the second half but could not finish. McKeown said his team’s struggles down the stretch Thursday were due to injuries.

“Right now we’re playing a little short-handed,” he said. “We ran out of gas a little bit.”

NU missed the contributions of junior guard Tailor Jones, who was injured in Monday’s game against Illinois and played only two minutes against Michigan.

The Cats also struggled getting the ball down low to Diamant, who has been their go-to player during Big Ten play. Part of that, McKeown said, was due to injury, and part due to Michigan’s defense.

“Tonight Michigan double-teamed her and showed double teams before she even got the ball,” he said. “She’s still coming back from injury. I needed to get her out of the game a little more than I did.”

Although depth was a hindrance, McKeown saw turnovers as NU’s main issue Thursday. He had a tough time explaining the troubles, but he said he hopes to figure them out on film.

“To have 18 turnovers in a half, we average less than that a game,” McKeown said. “That was the difference to me in the game tonight.”

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