Women’s Basketball: Northwestern returns home, looking to escape rough patch


Sean Su/Daily Senior Staffer

Nia Coffey goes up for the shot. In spite of the sophomore forward’s recent shooting struggles, Northwestern can’t afford to have her foul out as she did against Penn State.

Khadrice Rollins, Reporter

Women’s Basketball

Northwestern (14-5, 4-4 Big Ten) will look to rely on the comfort of home as it hosts No. 20 Iowa (16-3, 7-1) on Thursday.

The Wildcats have been on a bit of a skid lately that can be traced back to their first contest with Iowa, an 83-70 defeat on the road.

NU has lost three of its last four games with the most recent defeat coming at the hands of Penn State.

“You’re going to have some tough weeks,” coach Joe McKeown said. “You’ve got to bounce back.”

Bouncing back will not be easy for the Cats. The Hawkeyes are currently second in the Big Ten and are coming into Evanston on a five-game winning-streak. It also looks like NU will be playing its third-straight game without junior forward Lauren Douglas, whom McKeown said is day-to-day.

Douglas is fourth on the team in points per game and tied for third in rebounds per game despite averaging only 20 minutes per night. Although the Cats were able to escape against Illinois with a win, it was easy to see how much the team missed Douglas’ impact when foul trouble plagued them against Penn State.

“It’s like at any program where you have opportunities for other people to step up and in our case, you can play different positions,” McKeown said. “The one thing that we have, we have some versatility in our players.”

NU has an offense that relies mostly on shooting and penetration, which allows for the four-guard lineups it ran on Sunday to work well. However, it would not be good for defense if the Cats are forced to play junior guard Maggie Lyon at center on Thursday like they did at the end of the Penn State contest.

Lyon said the team will be more prepared if it has to have people play out of position this game.

“Foul trouble was unfortunate,” Lyon said. “In practice, we try to practice all of the positions. Whatever situation comes during games, we just have to deal with it.”

Although the players should be more comfortable if forced to play at new spots on the court, an experienced inside presence will be needed to pick up a win.

In NU’s previous contest against Iowa, Hawkeyes center Bethany Doolittle had her way versus the Cats’ interior defense. She posted 29 points on 13-of-20 shooting to go along with 12 rebounds.

Sophomore forward Nia Coffey and senior center Alex Cohen cannot afford to foul out like they did on Sunday, with a presence like Doolittle ready to feast on any smaller lineup the Cats would have to employ.

Still, none of this will matter if the Cats do not put the ball in the basket. NU shot 34.7 percent from the field in Iowa City, Iowa, two weeks ago, while allowing the Hawkeyes connected on 50.8 percent of its shots.

With any luck, the home rims will be a little friendlier to the Cats.

“We’re playing on our home court, that’s kind of an advantage for us,” sophomore guard Christen Inman said. “We’re just going to keep sharing the ball and keep pumping each other up, and hopefully those will shots go down.”

Email: khadricerollins2017@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @KhadriceRollins