Women’s Basketball: Wildcats look to avenge loss to Spartans


Daily file photo by Melody Song

Freshman forward Lauren Douglas surveys the floor. Douglas scored a key layup against Michigan State during the Wildcats’ last meeting with the Spartans, but Northwestern lost late in the game.

Ariel Yong, Reporter

The Wildcats can surpass last season’s conference win total with a victory Wednesday.

Northwestern (12-13, 4-8 Big Ten) heads to East Lansing, Mich., to face Michigan State (19-6, 7-5) for the second time this season. With only four conference games left, the Cats have the opportunity to double their Big Ten wins from last year. It won’t be without a fight, however, especially because their first test is a rematch with the Spartans.

The Cats are coming off a big win Sunday against Minnesota. Four NU starters scored in the double digits, and the team as a whole shot 52.1 percent from the field. NU held Minnesota’s Rachel Banham, who tops the Big Ten in scoring with an average of 21.3 points per game, to 19 points. The Cats scored 70 points of their own, which is the most points they have scored since Jan. 24, when NU fell  77-73 to then-No. 13 Purdue.

The Spartans, on the other hand, have dropped two of their last three games and suffered a 1-point loss to Michigan on Saturday. Penn State also beat them by 15 points Feb. 10.

The Cats will have to carry their momentum into Wednesday’s game and use both their energy and height advantage to stop Michigan State’s Annalise Pickrel. The last time these two teams met was Jan. 31, when NU lost its composure down the stretch and coach Joe McKeown received a technical foul for “bench decorum.”

The Cats cut the Spartans’ lead down to only 3 with 13.1 seconds left on a 3-pointer by freshman forward Lauren Douglas but could not seal the victory.

NU struggled to contain Pickrel, who had the hot hand and led her team with 21 points. She went 5-7 from beyond the arc and ranks No. 9 in the Big Ten in 3-point field goal percentage at 37.4 percent.

Despite the loss, the Cats did prove they can shoot. The Spartans’ pride themselves on their impressive defense, but the NU exceeded Michigan State’s opponent averages in their last meeting.

The Spartans rank first in the Big Ten for scoring defense, but the Cats scored 62 points, which is well above the Spartan-average of 51.0 opponent points per game.

Michigan State also ranks first in 3-point field goal percentage defense, with opponents shooting 26.2 percent from beyond the arc. The Cats shot just shy of twice that percentage, going 46.2 percent from the 3-point line.