Women’s Basketball: Depleted Northwestern drops to Michigan State, 72-58

Steven Montero

Dannielle Diamant was injured. Kendall Hackney fouled out. Karly Roser and Morgan Jones followed suit.

Seconds before the final buzzer sounded at the Breslin Center on Thursday, Northwestern’s only remaining on-court starter, senior guard Allison Mocchi, led the Wildcats on a hopeless effort across the court. She scored her only 2 points of the night on a layup that did little to affect the outcome as NU fell to Michigan State 72-58.

Despite the final score, the Cats had control of the game deep into the first half, at one point refusing to give the Spartans the lead for more than nine minutes. Michigan State would tie NU’s pace and the game at 26, and with less than three minutes to play before halftime, the Cats crumbled.

Coach Joe McKeown said NU broke down defensively. The Spartans would go into the second half with a five-point lead and would not allow a Cats comeback for the remainder of the game.

“They got in transition a little bit, hit a couple big threes and then got rolling,” McKeown said. “To be honest, the biggest thing is we broke down on transition defense in crucial times in the game.”

McKeown said it was a combination of Michigan State’s defense and poor shots that kept the Cats’ shooting percentage to 37.5 percent. Meanwhile, the Spartans went 42.9 percent from the floor.

He added the foul-trouble plaguing the Cats really hurt them.

“Michigan State’s a very physical team,” junior forward Hackney said, “but we just tried to play solid defense and the referees make the calls at the end of the game, so that’s to their discretion. We just did what we could and unfortunately we got a lot of calls.”

Junior forward Diamant’s absence from the game after an injury late in the first half combined with NU’s foul trouble stretched the Cats’ depth.

“It was a huge hurt for us in the second half because she’s our dominant post presence, so not having her in there battling with (Michigan State’s) Lykendra Johnson on the other team – with the other bigs – that hurt us,” Hackney said. “(Diamant) is just so strong and such a strong presence and can score. That was unfortunate, but as long as she gets healthy, that’s all we care about.”

NU’s bench players totaled 19 points Thursday, with junior guard Tailor Jones racking in 13 of those points.

McKeown said Tailor Jones and the rest of the bench provided “a really good lift” when most of NU’s usual firepower wasn’t working. Hackney added that the bench’s “boost” kept NU fighting.

“We just wanted to fight back, that aggressive mentality on defense especially,” freshman guard Roser said. “We have a really deep desire to win so anything we can do to come out with a win, we’re going to do it. It’s all or nothing right now.”

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