Women’s Basketball: Wildcats can’t find their shot, get routed by Badgers

Kevin Trahan

In the wake of Sunday’s 75-55 loss at Wisconsin, Northwestern freshman point guard Karly Roser didn’t quite know what to make of her team’s performance.

“Honestly, I don’t know what to say,” she said. “We just have a lot to work on.”

The Wildcats (12-8, 2-5 Big Ten) struggled out of the gate, while the Badgers (6-13, 2-5) came out firing on all cylinders, building a 27-7 lead with six minutes and 50 seconds remaining in the first half. The Cats fought back in the second half, before Wisconsin went on another run.

“Our goal was to get it down to within 10 or 12 (points) with 10 minutes to go and we did that, but they made a big play and they just went on a run,” coach Joe McKeown said. “Defensively, we broke down everywhere.”

This is the second straight game in which the Cats have struggled early in the contest, coming off a losing effort against Michigan when they scored just 13 points in the first half.

“I mean, I want to say it was just a bad game again, but this is getting old,” junior forward Dannielle Diamant said. “They’re a really hard-working team and they out-worked us tonight.”

There are few answers for the Cats right now, as they are coming off shooting performances of 31 and 37 percent against the Badgers and Wolverines, respectively.

Inconsistent play was a problem for the second consecutive game. NU played good defense in the first half of the Michigan game, but faltered on that side of the ball in the second half. Against Wisconsin, the Cats struggled on defense in the first half, before settling down in the second half.

“Our defense could have stepped up little bit,” Roser said. “We did a little better job in the second half defending.”

Defensively, McKeown has said he likes to focus on stopping two of the opponent’s top scorers. However, his team has struggled to do that in Big Ten play, and that ended up being its Achilles’ heel on Sunday.

“Today we allowed two players to really go off on us,” he said. “We haven’t done a really good job all year shutting down (the opponent’s top two).”

The Badgers’ top two on Sunday combined for 45 points, as Anya Covington and Morgan Paige ended with 25 and 20 points, respectively.

The Cats’ offense also struggled, finishing with their lowest point total in any two-game stretch this season. NU didn’t shoot well in last Monday’s win at Illinois either, scoring just 59 points in that victory.

Diamant scored 13 points Sunday and freshman guard Morgan Jones added 11, despite shooting 4-for-17 from the field and 0-for-6 from three. They were the only two NU players to score in double figures.

“I hope it’s just a fluke,” McKeown said. “I hope, but we’ll get back to practice.”

Roser, who finished with six points and was 3-for-6 shooting, couldn’t come up with an explanation for the missed shots, either.

“Honestly, I think shots weren’t falling for us,” she said. “(It wasn’t) that we weren’t taking shots in the first place.”

Despite the weak shooting performance, Diamant found positives in NU’s performance, particularly improvements from Thursday’s game against Michigan.

“I feel like our starting five was on same page more than we were (against Michigan),” she said. “If you watch the game against Michigan, there was lot of confusion. I feel like we played more together.”

However, McKeown knows NU needs to see more than moral victories in order to make a postseason tournament.

“We’re only halfway through our league so it gives us something that, if we aspire to be around in postseason, will have to get better at,” he said.

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