Women’s Basketball: After snapping losing streak, Northwestern faces important contest at Penn State

Khadrice Rollins, Reporter

Women’s Basketball

Coming off a nail-biting 68-67 win against Illinois that ended a season-long two-game losing streak, the Wildcats (14-4, 4-3 Big Ten) return to the court on Sunday in a matchup against Penn State (4-15, 1-7).

This will be the first time all season the Cats have to play consecutive road games, but the Nittany Lions are a prime team to play in such a case. Penn State is currently last in the Big Ten, with its only conference win coming in its most recent game, a home triumph over an Indiana squad that is just 2-5 itself in conference.

NU will bring the second-best scoring margin in the Big Ten into University Park, Pennsylvania, while the Penn State team ranks dead last in the conference in that category. The Cats are also at the top of the Big Ten in steals per game, and the Nittany Lions are last in turnovers per game, meaning NU should have a chance to take possessions and run away with the contest early.

The Cats have been struggling as of late though, going 1-2 in their last three contests. But the Nittany Lions have also had to deal with a rough stretch. Before its win Thursday, Penn State was on an eight-game losing streak, with six of the losses coming by double digits.

For an NU team that may have to play its second-straight game without junior Lauren Douglas — who averages 10.2 points per contest and is the Cats’ first option off the bench — it is a great time to play defensively challenged Penn State, a team second-to-last in the conference in points allowed per game.

If Douglas is unable to play Sunday, look for the Cats’ starting lineup to carry the load as it did against Illinois. Sophomore Christen Inman posted a season-high 18 points in the game against Illinois. If Douglas is unable to go, expect a similar performance from Inman.

The Cats were able to score only 2 points from the bench Thursday with Douglas sidelined, but the contribution from the reserves should increase Sunday. Senior Karly Roser will most likely take Douglas’ role as the team’s sixth person, and although she has not provided the scoring threat Douglas has all season, she remains an important part of the Cats’ offense. Roser is third on the team in assists even though she is only seventh in minutes per game. For an NU offense first in the conference in assists per game, having another quality passer on the court to make plays could be huge.

With or without Douglas, this is a game the Cats need to win. NU still has five games remaining against teams in the Associated Press Top 25. 

And a loss to the conference’s worst team could hurt NU’s chances of making the NCAA Tournament.

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