Women’s Basketball: Northwestern downed by Minnesota after comeback bid falls short


Daily file photo by Katherine Pach

Christen Inman drives toward the basket. The junior guard performed well in Northwestern’s game at Minnesota, scoring 15 points in the loss.

Cole Paxton, Reporter

Women’s Basketball

The Wildcats did the hard work of coming back from a deficit, but they couldn’t finish the job in crunch time.

Junior forward Nia Coffey led the way with 27 points, and senior guard Maggie Lyon added 22 of her own, but Minnesota (12-6, 4-3 Big Ten) recovered after blowing a 16-point third quarter lead to defeat Northwestern (13-6, 2-5) 95-92 Wednesday in Minneapolis.

The Gophers took the lead for good on a Karley Barnes jumper with 3:10 to play. NU drew within one on a Lydia Rohde 3-pointer with 4 seconds left but after a pair of Minnesota free throws, Ashley Deary’s could not sink a buzzer-beating 3-pointer.

“You got to give Minnesota credit,” coach Joe McKeown said. “They made a lot of shots. And our defense was great for a while, then we got tired.”

The final result negated a 33-point third quarter for NU, the most points it has scored in a single period this season.

The loss was particularly disappointing for the Cats because of the caliber of the opposition. NU went just 1-3 in its previous four games entering Wednesday, but those games were against the top four teams in the Big Ten standings. Minnesota, meanwhile, entered the game mired in the middle of the conference.

On Wednesday night, Lyon shot 8-of-15 from the field, including 4-of-8 from 3-point range. In the third quarter, she became the program’s all-time leader in 3-pointers, surpassing the record held by Michele Ratay.

“It’s really cool,” Lyon said of the record. “I’ve had such great teammates and such great coaches throughout my career, that obviously a record like that is awesome individually, but it’s the team efforts that have come along with it that’s so great.”

NU had retaken the lead on a Coffey 3-pointer late in the third quarter for the first time in more than two periods.

The Cats, however, frequently looked like a sieve defensively. The Gophers scored 52 points in the first half and the 95 total points allowed by NU marked a season high.

Minnesota guard Rachel Banham, who entered the game averaging 23.6 points per game, finished with 32 to lead all scorers. She had 15 in the first quarter alone and finished 6-of-10 on 3-point field goals.

NU struggled early in the absence of Coffey, who played sparingly in the first half because of three early fouls. But the junior forward exploded after halftime, scoring 19 of her 27 points in the third quarter alone.

Freshman forward Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah made her mark inside, scoring 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting and adding 12 rebounds, which marked her second career double-double.

Despite the final result, Lyon sees positives in NU’s recent performances. In her eyes, the Cats, in the midst of a 1-5 stretch over their last six games, can still achieve all of their goals.

“We have a lot of Big Ten games to go. We’re going in the right direction,” Lyon said. “Despite what the outcomes might be right now, we’re, as a team, a good unit, and we know how we can play and we’ve showed that.”

This post was updated at 10:34 p.m. with postgame quotes.

A previous version of this story misstated the number of points NU scored in the third quarter. The Cats scored 33 points. The Daily regrets the error.

Email: colepaxton2019@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @ckpaxton