Women’s Basketball: Diamant’s injury crushes Wildcats against Nittany Lions

Steven Montero

Dannielle Diamant was out of the action in Northwestern’s loss to No. 18 Penn State on Sunday.

Without their junior forward, the Wildcats were at a height disadvantage and allowed the Nittany Lions to score time after time and capture 32 defensive rebounds, seven more than NU.

Diamant checks in at 6 feet 5 inches tall, and her performances in NU’s last few games have been indispensible. She accounted for 20 points at Michigan, 22 against Indiana and 21 versus Purdue.

She suffered a concussion at the end of the first half Thursday against Michigan State, mustering 7 points and seven rebounds before the injury, and has not stepped onto the court since.

“With Dannielle not being able to play because of symptoms from the first half of Michigan State ­- not playing the second half of Michigan State, not playing today – it just really limits our offense, some of the things we can do,” coach Joe McKeown said.

Injuries have plagued the Cats this entire season. Senior forward Brittany Orban had her season cut short with a torn ACL against North Carolina State in November. Freshman guard Karly Roser and senior guard Allison Mocchi both played fewer minutes than usual Sunday due to injury.

This is the second time Diamant has been on the bench due to injury. In late December, a sprained ankle kept her from delivering her usual performance against Iowa and Minnesota, scoring a combined 15 points between the games.

McKeown had hoped to help her recover by keeping her off the floor but now he said he’ll take a “four-leaf clover or rosary beads” to ward off further injuries.

With Penn State’s starting forwards’ heights – Nikki Greene at 6 feet 4 inches and Mia Nickson at 6 feet 2 inches – the Wildcats had a tough time adjusting their play.

Freshman guard Morgan Jones said the Nittany Lions’ big players left gaps in Penn State’s defense because they weren’t as quick, but the height differential hurt NU on the opposite side of the court.

“On the offensive boards it killed us,” Jones said. “Their girls are a lot of big girls, and they had them coming off the bench strong, so that definitely affected us.”

Penn State coach Coquese Washington said the Cats took advantage of their situation as much as they could by pulling the Nittany Lions’ post players to the perimeter.

Stepping up to fill in for Diamant were freshman forward Alex Cohen and junior forward Kate Popovec. Cohen played 14 minutes and McKeown said she gave NU “a good spark off the bench”. Still, she doesn’t provide the same defensive presence as Diamant.

“Obviously (Cohen) can score,” McKeown said. “We’ve got to get her to be able to defend power post players like Penn State has.”

Cohen tallied up 8 points and five rebounds while on the court.

“I knew coming in that Kate Popovec and I really had to fill in (Diamant’s) shoes and do a lot for the team,” Cohen said. “We can’t wait for her to get back. She’s such a big part of this team. We came in having to play against Dannielle every day in practice. That’s really been helpful for us.”

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