Women’s Basketball: Northwestern falls at home to Indiana


Zack Laurence/The Daily Northwestern

Nia Coffey defends an Indiana ballhandler. The junior forward scored 29 points in Sunday’s loss to Indiana, Northwestern’s third-straight defeat.

Cole Paxton, Reporter

Women’s Basketball

Staring down the barrel of a two-game losing skid and facing a second-tier opponent, the Wildcats needed a win. On Sunday, they didn’t get it.

Not even junior forward Nia Coffey’s 29 points and junior guard Ashley Deary’s career-high 28 points could propel Northwestern (13-7, 2-6) to a win. Indiana (12-8, 4-4) used double-figure scoring from five players to defeat the Cats 91-84 Sunday at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

“Tough game. Really tough game,” coach Joe McKeown said. “Lots of runs and unfortunately Indiana had the last run that we couldn’t stop, and that was the difference in the game.”

After starting Big Ten play losing five of their first seven games, NU badly needed a win. Defeating the Hoosiers, a team with an RPI of 62, would have been particularly important for an NU team that entered Sunday ranked No. 58. Instead of scoring a home win against a team that, according to one measure, is near their caliber, NU took another loss to a less than elite team.

The loss also overshadowed an exceptional performance for Deary, who played all 40 minutes. She was just three boards shy of a triple-double, and dished out 10 assists in addition to her 28 points. Coffey was also strong, scoring in double-figures for the 35th consecutive game and adding 11 rebounds for a double-double of her own.

NU’s offense, for the most part, was varied and successful. Deary found Coffey wide open underneath the basket in the opening minutes, and junior guard Christen Inman found freshman forward Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah
open in a similar situation early in the second quarter.

NU hit its fair share of jumpers as well. Deary sold an Indiana defender with a pump fake and hit a midrange shot and senior guard Maggie Lyon and Deary each hit three 3-pointers.

In crunch time, though, only Indiana looked crisp. Indiana guard Tyra Buss knifed her way through the lane and past several NU defenders for the go-ahead score, and her long outlet pass to guard Alexis Gassion on the next possession came after Deary and Kunaiyi-Akpanah both missed layups for the Cats.

“I don’t know,” McKeown said of why Indiana controlled the fourth quarter. “I think defensively there’s some technical things we got to break down. I thought our energy was high tonight … we just have these defensive breakdowns in awareness that we got to clean up.”

NU’s entire third quarter was strong, as they turned a 5-point halftime deficit into a 7-point lead after three periods. Indiana, however, scored 33 points in the fourth — 12 more than they totaled in any other period.

“I think we just broke down defensively,” Deary said. “We weren’t communicating in transition or in our defensive scheme.”

The Cats were within 2 points with as little as 2:18 to play, but the Hoosiers made 5-of-6 free throws after that point.

Buss led the Hoosiers with 21 points and was followed closely by forward Amanda Cahill, who had 20. The Cats had little answer for guard Jess Walter, who hit four 3-pointers en route to 15 points. Walter entered Sunday averaging just 2.9 points per game.

Having lost three straight, the Cats face a monumental challenge at No. 7 Ohio State on Thursday. NU did, however, defeat the Buckeyes 86-82 in Evanston less than two weeks ago.

McKeown, instead of sulking in defeat, reminded positive about the season moving forward.

“In the Big Ten we play an 18 game schedule and the (conference) tournament,” McKeown said. “We got a lot of games left. We’re only, not even halfway through the conference.”

This story was updated with postgame quotes.

This article and corresponding photo caption were updated to reflect a stat correction involving Nia Coffey and Ashley Deary’s point totals.

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Twitter: @ckpaxton