Women’s basketball: Turnovers plague NU again

Kevin Trahan

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After her team’s 80-70 win over Northwestern on Thursday, Purdue coach Sharon Versyp said she was relieved to escape from Welsh-Ryan Arena with a victory, knowing the Wildcats aren’t typical of most teams with 2-6 conference records.

“I thought it was a great basketball game,” she said. “Northwestern is a lot better than its record in the Big Ten. They’re difficult to defend.”

In regards to the major statistical categories, this game was closer than the final score indicated. The Cats out-shot the Boilermakers from the field, and the teams each finished with 43 rebounds. However, it was the little things that killed NU for the third straight game. The Cats finished with 22 turnovers and gave Purdue too many chances to get to the line, where the Boilermakers shot a remarkable 28-for-30 on the game.

There were good stretches but too many bad ones for NU to pull out a win against the No. 13 team in the country.

“It was a hard-fought game,” coach Joe McKeown said. “We have some things we need to do a better job at on defensive end. That gives us ideas to work on.”

NU lacked consistency, allowing Purdue to go on a 16-6 run right before halftime to bring the lead to 10 at the break. The Cats fought back but couldn’t get into a rhythm except during a strong stretch midway through the first half.

“In the second half we were a little better, regardless of stats,” McKeown said. “We had better ball movement and better shot selection. We had a bad stretch turnover-wise at the end of the first half and that really hurt us.”

There were certainly bright spots for NU. Junior forward Kendall Hackney scored the 1,000th point of her career and fellow junior forward Dannielle Diamant had a double-double, with 21 points and 10 rebounds. However, neither was satisfied with the number of mistakes the team made.

“We just have to take care of the ball better,” Diamant said. “Obviously it’s not acceptable, so we really have to work on that.”

At the core, NU has struggled with the same things all year – turnovers, shot selection and inconsistency. However, McKeown said the cause of those struggles changes each game.

“Unlike some conferences, in the Big Ten, a lot of teams play different than other teams,” he said. “In the Big Ten we have teams that play fast and teams that are big and physical, so we see different looks every game.”

McKeown has a young team – NU starts two freshmen, two juniors and a senior – which makes the learning process difficult, especially with such short breaks between games.

“(Freshman point guard) Karly (Roser) and (freshman guard) Morgan (Jones), they’re learning on the fly,” he said. “They’re playing against players who were in the NCAA Tournament last year and are juniors and seniors. It’s a great experience for us, physically. You have to take the positives from this game, because I think we could be a great team again.”

Hackney was able to find the positives, citing a solid effort against a team that is undefeated so far in conference play.

“We never gave up,” she said. “I never thought it was over.”

However, McKeown said he hopes that effort starts to add up to more wins as February and the second half of Big Ten play close in.

“Tonight we showed a lot of heart,” he said. “Hopefully that will translate into ‘W’s.'”