Women’s Basketball: Wildcats drop second straight in Big Ten

Senior+forward+Kendall+Hackney+rises+up+for+a+jump+shot.+Hackney+led+Northwestern+with+18+points+in+its+loss+against+conference+foe+Indiana.+

Daily file photo by Susan Du

Senior forward Kendall Hackney rises up for a jump shot. Hackney led Northwestern with 18 points in its loss against conference foe Indiana.

Rebecca Friedman, Reporter

Northwestern is close, but not close enough.

NU fell to Indiana on Sunday in a claw-biter, its second consecutive road loss decided by 4 points. The Cats (8-7, 0-2 Big Ten) lost 68-64 to the Hoosiers (10-5, 1-1) following a 73-69 loss to Penn State three days earlier.

“I think we’re all just looking to forget about these two and use the momentum we had from (earlier in) the Penn State game,” senior forward Dannielle Diamant said.

Diamant and fellow senior forward Kendall Hackney led the Cats in the close loss, with 13 and 18 points respectively. Hackney started strong for NU, but Indiana’s prowess down low proved too much for the Cats and they headed into the half down 35-27. Diamant came out hard in the second half, scoring the first 7 points for the Cats and giving them a 44-43 lead with 12 minutes left in the game.

Coach Joe McKeown emphasized the important role the two seniors have and indicated even their impressive performances have room for improvement.

“They both have to play both ends of the court well,” he said.

The Cats were unable to overcome the play from Indiana’s forward Aulani Sinclair. Sinclair put up 31 points, 18 in the second half. She went 14-of-15 at the free throw line, two free throws coming with eight seconds left to solidify the victory for the Hoosiers.

McKeown acknowledged that the Cats gave Sinclair too many chances on the foul line, but gave her credit for “making big shots late in the game.”

McKeown was proud of the Cats’ ability to come back from a deficit but noted the importance of ending the game well.

“You have to finish games,” he said. “We came back tonight really hard and just couldn’t finish. We had to gamble tonight playing from behind. We played Penn State 37 of the 40 minutes. (Indiana) was a grind-out game. They just made one more play.”

The Cats acknowledged how hard it is to get road wins in the tough Big Ten conference and how important their upcoming home stand will be.

“One of our goals this year is not to lose at home,” Diamant said. “We’ve been a little up and down with that one. It’s still one of our goals regardless of whether we won or lost in the past. The Big Ten is like a whole new season pretty much; it’s the second part of it.”

Hackney also noted the difficulty and level of play of the conference in general and how it makes for entertaining basketball.

“Every game is a toss up,” she said. “Every team is talented, and that’s the great thing about the conference that I love because every game is a great game.”

So far, the Cats have played seven to eight players deep, giving them a short bench. However, the starters do not see that as a reason they should not succeed.

“I think our team is talented enough,” Hackney said. “We have the depth and talent and should utilize it every game.”

She also noted it was not something she thought about while on the floor.

Heading into their matchup against in-state rival Illinois on Thursday, the Cats are looking forward to improving and finishing better in order to protect their home court.

“Today we didn’t play like the team that we are, and we are really looking to prove ourselves against Illinois,” Diamant said.

“We came up short today, but we have a lot of basketball left in the season,” Hackney added. “We have two losses early, but we just need to fix it up and pull out two big wins at home this week and the week after.”

Comments