Women’s Basketball: Northwestern improves, but falls to Michigan for second time

Freshman+forward+Maggie+Lyon+attempts+a+shot.+Lyon+led+the+Wildcats+with+18+points+in+their+loss+to+Michigan+on+Thursday.+

Daily file photo by Meghan White

Freshman forward Maggie Lyon attempts a shot. Lyon led the Wildcats with 18 points in their loss to Michigan on Thursday.

Rebecca Friedman, Assistant Sports Editor

After one of their worst performances of the season against Michigan on Jan. 17, the Wildcats hoped they could avenge themselves in their next matchup against the Wolverines.

While Northwestern didn’t get the “W,” its play at the start was much improved from the last contest in Thursday’s 55-50 loss to Michigan. 

But the second half proved to be much more difficult for the Cats. The Wolverines came out strong, achieving the largest lead of the game, 11, with nine minutes and 36 seconds left on the clock.

NU battled back and was able to push Michigan to within a single point with only a minute and 54 seconds left thanks to a 15-5 run. Freshman forward Maggie Lyon put up her fourth 3-pointer of the game to get the Cats to within 1.

However, Michigan’s last-minute push proved too much for the Cats. The Big Ten rivals continued to battle, but the Wolverines quickly claimed a 3-point lead they wouldn’t lose.

“We wanted to come out and make a statement,” senior forward Kendall Hackney said in response to their ugly game against Michigan earlier in the season. “Winning obviously would have done that, but our play was much improved.”

Lyon described how watching game tape from their last game against Michigan served as a great source of motivation for the Cats going in.

“Watching film from last Michigan’s game, our worst game of the year except for Illinois at home, made us want to prove that we weren’t that team and how much better we had gotten,” she said.

NU came out with intensity in the first half. The beginning of the game remained tight, without either team gaining too much of a lead. Later in the half, the Wolverines were able to go on an 8-0 run to gain a 19-11 edge. NU battled back, but Michigan was able to keep up and went into the locker room with a 24-21 lead.

“We started off a little rocky,” Hackney said. “We never have a problem getting the momentum going again, and we’ve always been good at that on the road keeping that going through the second half.”

Besides the rocky start, the Cats pointed to two things they could have improved in order to best the Wolverines.

“Rebounding on defense was the killer for us,” Hackney said. “We have to fix that. It’s something that killed us today.”

Hackney added that the stretches the Cats had without scoring also hurt them.

“We’ve got a great team,” she said. “There’s so much talent. It’s hard when we go through scoring droughts; it really kills us. Five- to six-minutes scoring droughts are rough.”

However, the Cats definitely gave credit where credit was due and acknowledged the strength of Michigan’s team.

“Michigan is a tough team, and on the road especially,” Hackney said.

The Cats worked to better contain Michigan’s top player Kate Thompson, who scored seven 3-pointers the last time the two teams met. NU’s effort defensively was apparent on the stat sheet, where Thompson finished with 5 points on 2-of-10 shooting from the field.

Lyon put up 18 points for the Cats, her 11th straight game scoring double digits. Hackney chipped in 13 more, and freshman forward Lauren Douglas added 8.

Despite the loss, the Cats aim to head into their final home game of the season against Iowa hoping to gain confidence for the upcoming Big Ten Tournament and pay tribute to their seniors in their final game at home in purple.

“We want to go into the Big Ten with confidence and know we can beat anyone,” Lyon said.

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