Women’s Basketball: Wildcats fall flat against Golden Gophers

Sophomore+forward+Lauren+Douglas+plays+defense+in+Thursday%E2%80%99s+win+against+No.+21+Purdue.+Douglas+had+5+points+and+five+rebounds+off+the+bench+in+the+first+half+of+Northwestern%E2%80%99s+loss+Sunday+to+Minnesota.

Daily file photo by Susan Du

Sophomore forward Lauren Douglas plays defense in Thursday’s win against No. 21 Purdue. Douglas had 5 points and five rebounds off the bench in the first half of Northwestern’s loss Sunday to Minnesota.

Bobby Pillote, Reporter

After splitting a pair of wire-to-wire games against ranked opponents, Northwestern looked gassed.

The Wildcats (11-5, 1-2 Big Ten) came up well short Sunday against Minnesota  (12-5, 1-2) in a 94-59 blowout loss. NU struggled on both sides of the ball, allowing Minnesota to dominate for a full 40 minutes and cruise to a big victory.

“Minnesota played great,” coach Joe McKeown said. “They just had every answer.”

Freshman forward Nia Coffey, usually a stalwart for the Cats, struggled in the first half. Coffey has been poised all season long and leads the team in points, but she could not get her shot going early, missing her first nine attempts.

Nonetheless, Coffey continued to battle in the second half and finally found some rhythm, finishing the game with six rebounds and a team-high 19 points in spite of a poor 6-for-21 shooting night. Coffey said more team cohesion would help NU out in the future.

“They played tighter than usual,” Coffey said. “We just have to play through that and play together.”

Furthering NU’s offensive woes, sophomore guard Maggie Lyon appeared to have cooled off after a hot shooting night Thursday against Purdue. Lyon had just 4 first-half points, all from free throws, and only attempted one shot from the floor before halftime.

She too regained her form in the second half to contribute a total of 15 points and seven rebounds, but it wasn’t nearly enough to overcome a sizable Golden Gophers lead.

“Whenever we tried to make a run they just hit a big shot,” McKeown said. “Everybody stepped up for Minnesota today.”

Worse still for NU, guard Christen Inman, the Cats’ other high scoring freshman, was limited by foul trouble throughout the game. Inman took a seat early in the second half with four fouls, and finished the night with just 8 points, one assist and no rebounds.

NU relied on a strong performance off the bench from sophomore forward Lauren Douglas to keep the game relatively close early on. Douglas entered the game in the first half and immediately sparked her teammates with 5 points and five rebounds, but a weak second half left her with no additional points and just three more rebounds.

The sophomore also had little help, with the rest of the five bench players that entered the game contributing a combined 3 points.

“We struggled offensively when we couldn’t score,” McKeown said, “and we couldn’t defend. It’s a bad combination.”

The Cats’ defense also faltered, allowing the Golden Gophers to steadily build a lead and to prevent NU from sparking its own run offensively. Minnesota shot 44 percent, including 9-for-20 from beyond the arc, and all five starters finished with at least 9 points.

“They hurt you from every part of the floor,” McKeown said. “They can spread it out and they have post players that can play inside.”

NU will only get a few days rest before it hosts Illinois on Wednesdaya meeting Coffey is hoping will bring her team a little redemption.

“A setback is a setup for a greater comeback,” Coffey said. “We’re keeping a positive mindset.”

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