Women’s Basketball: Northwestern’s comeback not enough, falls to Iowa

Steven Montero

Northwestern could only chip away at leads for so long.

Heading into halftime Thursday, the Hawkeyes out-shot the Wildcats to gain a 16-point lead. Although NU (14-14, 4-11 Big Ten) would come within 4 during the second stanza, Iowa (18-10, 10-5) earned its seventh consecutive win, 70-63.

The Hawkeyes’ large gap came off of four 3-pointers within less than four minutes in the first half. Forward Kelly Krei made the last of this sequence with 27 seconds on the clock. Coach Joe McKeown said it was “a little dagger.”

“You’ve got to defend them outside the 3-point line,” McKeown said. “That makes them dangerous. They’ve got a lot of interchangeable parts.”

Senior guard Allison Mocchi said NU’s performance was a huge improvement from the last Iowa match, which the Cats lost by 31. She said the waterfall of threes is typical of Iowa, and NU did a good job of responding in the second half.

The Cats slowed down the Hawkeyes, allowing only nine points from behind the arc following halftime. Overall NU cut down Iowa’s shooting percentage from 43 percent to 30 percent between the halves.

Freshman guard Karly Roser said NU’s defense adapted to Iowa’s offense.

“We were trying to switch up our defense a little bit and try some new things so that those 3’s weren’t as open,” Roser said. “In the beginning of the first half I would say we were taking some more risks so we can get off to an early lead. Then we kind of sank back a little bit, not to play it safe but just so they wouldn’t get those wide open 3’s like they had been.”

The Cats also outscored the Hawkeyes 41-32 after the intermission.

McKeown said it was a “tale of two halves.”

“We played really well in the second half, but you just can’t spot a team like Iowa, who’s such a dangerous offensive team,” he said. “That run in the last seven, eight minutes put us way behind.”

Iowa took control of the game in transition, totaling 17 points off NU’s 18 turnovers.

In the second half, the Cats were much more prepared to control the Hawkeyes, McKeown said. He added NU was much improved on transition defense than it was in the first 20 minutes.

“First half there was a stretch where they caught us,” McKeown said. “You turn your head and they penetrate and kick. They’re just really good at it. They do it at a pace that’s hard to recreate in practice.”

McKeown pointed to Roser and junior forward Dannielle Diamant as two reasons NU nipped at Iowa’s heels after halftime.

Diamant, the Cats’ powerhouse post player, put up only 3 points in the first half. She charged back in the second despite foul trouble and finished with 13 points.

“Dannielle had a really good second half,” McKeown said. “She struggled a little bit in the first half. She had lots of shots that went in and out. I’m not sure how. There was a lid just kicking the ball out of the basket there for a while.”

Roser contributed 9 points on the night, one of her better offensive contributions this year. She said she was trying to be aggressive and take the ball to the basket.

However, Roser was the sole freshman starter Thursday, as guard Morgan Jones wasn’t on the court at tip-off.

Jones later jumped into action and McKeown said it was a “coach’s decision” to not have her start. He added Jones did a good job on Thursday and that the change was a chance to look for different things.

“The bigger line stat tonight was that (Jones) had 8 rebounds and 6 assists,” McKeown said. “That was really important.”

Mocchi said although mental lapses affected the team, especially after the consecutive threes, NU bounced back and created opportunities.

“We battled back,” Mocchi said. “We were down 16 points at half, and it’s a huge credit to our team that we can battle back. We just have to put it together for 40 minutes.”

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