Women’s Basketball: Northwestern fades in second half for first loss in nine games

Alex Cohen fights off a pair of defenders. The senior center experienced a disappointing Senior Day, posting just 5 points and three rebounds in 29 minutes of play in a 69-48 beat down from No. 5 Maryland.

Daily file photo by Meghan White

Alex Cohen fights off a pair of defenders. The senior center experienced a disappointing Senior Day, posting just 5 points and three rebounds in 29 minutes of play in a 69-48 beat down from No. 5 Maryland.

Khadrice Rollins, Reporter

Women’s Basketball

For the second time in four days, Welsh-Ryan Arena hosted a matchup between two top 25 teams. But this game did not go in favor of the home team, and Senior Day was not too enjoyable for the Wildcats.

No. 25 Northwestern (22-7, 12-6 Big Ten) watched its winning streak end at eight games on Sunday thanks to a 69-48 loss at the hands of No. 5 Maryland (27-2, 18-0).

In the first half, NU put up a strong fight. The Cats never let Maryland push its lead beyond 7 points, and only trailed by 6 at the break.

“I thought we played really well in the first half,” coach Joe McKeown said. “We had some things that didn’t go well at the end of the first half, went down 6. But really, a pretty even game I thought.”

NU performed well in the turnover department, per the norm. In the first half, the Cats forced 10 Terrapins turnovers and had only six of their own.

NU also outscored Maryland in the paint, on the fast break and had more points off turnovers in the opening period, but it was not enough.

The difference between the two teams at the half was Maryland’s 3-point shooting.

The Terrapins went 5-of-10 from deep while NU was just 2-of-7. This afforded Maryland a 32-26 lead into halftime.

“They got hot,” McKeown said. “They hit five 3s in the first half. When you scout them, that’s not something they do a lot. They average four a game.”

The second half did not start well for the Cats. They allowed the Terrapins to get three offensive rebounds on their first possession and the road squad’s lead extended to 8. Maryland then proceeded to use its size with sophomore center Brionna Jones, who proved to be an issue for NU’s interior defense.

She had 7 points in the first 10 minutes of the second half and the Terrapins increased their lead to 14.

“I think we lost a little bit of momentum when they went on that first initial run,” senior guard Karly Roser said. “Maybe we were a little gassed at times. I’m not sure.”

In the game’s final 10 minutes, Jones and the Terrapins continued to assert their dominance on the inside. Maryland collected nine offensive rebounds in the second half, which led to 12 second chance points. Along with that, the Terrapins outscored the Cats in the paint 14-8 following the game’s halfway point.

Maryland’s good interior play, combined with its continued success from beyond the perimeter, proved to be too much for NU to handle. The Cats witnessed the deficit grow to 21 as they were unable to match the Terrapins offensive production and suffered a tough defeat.

“They do a lot of the little things well,” senior center Alex Cohen said. “I think they’re an all-around really good team and hopefully we get to see them in the tournament.”

Sophomore forward Nia Coffey was NU’s leading scorer with 14 points and junior forward Lauren Douglas and junior guard Maggie Lyon had 11 and 10 points apiece for a Cats offense that shot just 29 percent for the game.

Although the loss looks bad and was far from the desired result, NU is still in great position for the Big Ten Tournament. The Cats will likely still have a double bye in the tournament since this loss only dropped them one spot in the Big Ten rankings, down to fourth.

NU will look to learn from this loss, but at the same time, get past it and move forward into the postseason as this promising season is still far from over.

“Thursday night, we felt like we could beat anybody,” McKeown said. “We have to look at the positives we did today and take that into the tournament. We have a fearless team. I think they’re resilient and they’ll bounce back so I’m excited about that.”

Email: [email protected]northwestern.edu
Twitter: @KhadriceRollins