Women’s Basketball: Turnovers doom Wildcats in loss to Boilermakers


Courtney Morrison/The Daily Northwestern

Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah fights for the rebound. The freshman forward committed two of Northwestern’s 21 turnovers in just 12 minutes on Thursday.

Will Ragatz , Reporter

Women’s Basketball

Facing a talented Purdue team on Thursday night, Northwestern needed to elevate its level of play. Instead, the Wildcats played their sloppiest game of the season.

NU (12-3, 1-2 Big Ten) set a season high with 21 turnovers in an 85-71 loss to the Boilermakers (12-2, 3-0). Purdue, which collected a season-high 15 steals, turned those mistakes into 19 points, essentially the difference in the game.

“We just made bad decisions, we turned the ball over, we did a lot of things that are not like us,” coach Joe McKeown said after the game. “All of our wounds were self-inflicted tonight…we’re much better than that.”

The Cats came into the game averaging 10.9 turnovers per game, second best in the NCAA, and NU’s turnover margin of 9.8 was fifth in the nation. Both of those stats were blown out of the water, as the team lost the turnover battle by six on Thursday.

Point guard Ashley Deary was the face of NU’s struggles, as she finished with 10 turnovers, well over her season average of 2.3. Despite the performance, McKeown said he hasn’t lost faith in Deary.

“She’s a great player,” McKeown said. “She’ll bounce back, I have no doubt about that. I have tremendous confidence in her.”

Correcting the turnover issue will be extremely important if NU wants to pull out a victory in its next game, a trip to East Lansing to face No. 23 Michigan State. The Spartans are averaging 78.3 points per contest this season and the Cats will have a tough time beating them with a repeat of Thursday’s performance.

“(Turnovers are) definitely something we can’t let become a trend,” said junior guard Christen Inman. “It’s uncharacteristic of us as we’ve been focusing on keeping those down throughout the year. We’re going to bounce back.”

McKeown said the team will review the game film to find out what caused the mistakes so it can come up with a plan to correct them in Sunday’s game and going forward.

“We’ve gotta see where (the turnovers) came from and what the decision-making was, more than anything else,” McKeown said.

Statistically, McKeown is correct that this game was very unlike NU. At 1.71, NU is third-best team in the country in assist/TO, but finished with a ratio of 0.71 against Purdue. The Cats also posted only seven steals of their own, below their season average of 12.4.

However, the only number that mattered in the loss was 21 turnovers — the high count ultimately was the deciding factor Thursday.

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Twitter: @WillRagatz