Women’s Basketball: Northwestern seeking revenge against Maryland in Big Ten semifinals

Khadrice Rollins, Reporter

Conference tournaments mean quick turnarounds and little time to enjoy wins, no matter how impressive.

No. 24 Northwestern (23-7, 12-6 Big Ten) will have to deal with this reality on Saturday when it takes on No. 4 Maryland (28-2, 18-0) at the Sears Centre.

The Wildcats are coming off an exciting comeback win against No. 23 Rutgers. This is a similar situation to what NU faced last week, when it had to take on Rutgers and Maryland in consecutive games to close out the regular season.

In the previous matchup with the Terrapins last Sunday, the Cats fell apart in the second half. After keeping it close in the opening 20 minutes, NU lost the second half by 15 points on way to a 69-48 defeat that ended its eight-game winning streak.

And the Cats have been waiting for the chance at this rematch from the second the clock struck zero at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

“(They are an) all-around good team and hopefully we see them in the tournament,” senior center Alex Cohen said after Sunday’s game. “This is the first time we’ve seen them. And so coming off this game, I think playing them a second time, we’re going to be ready for them.”

There might be a little revenge involved too.

“Payback game,” senior guard Karly Roser said. “So that’s always a big incentive for us and a push. Give us some extra energy.”

On Friday, NU saw first hand how much revenge can affect a team’s play. Rutgers lost to the Cats by 20 points in the previous contest between the two teams, but in the first half of the second game, it didn’t seem that way. The Scarlet Knights led by as much as 15 before NU used a 21-4 run at the start of the second half to take control.

“I think (the 20-point loss) might have changed how they started the game,” junior guard Maggie Lyon said.

With the Maryland battle a day after the Rutgers contest, the Cats have no time to dwell on the win, but instead must look ahead to their upcoming opponent.

Coach Joe McKeown already knows what the team can improve on from the prior contest with the Terrapins, and is expecting it to be a closer game because of that.

“They had a stretch where they really capitalized when we couldn’t score; they scored,” McKeown said.  “And we’ve got to stop those runs.  We just can’t let those runs happen.”

McKeown said that his team has many competitive players. One of these is sophomore guard Ashley Deary

Deary, who was named to the Big Ten’s All-Defensive Team this week, proved to be a catalyst for the Cats’ comeback on Friday with her fantastic play on both ends of the court, particularly in the second half. Deary scored 10 of her 12 points after halftime and had four assists and two steals in the game’s final 20 minutes as well.

The ensuing contest is a priority for the guard, but she is also thinking about a bigger picture for this team.

“I think we’re excited,” Deary said.  “I think we’re ready for revenge. I think we’re going to come out a whole different team and just energetic.  Like we want to win the Big Ten championship.  That’s our goal.  There’s not going to be a team that’s going to stop us from that.”

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