Women’s Basketball: Northwestern falls to Rutgers in wild finish


Source: Chloe Coffman/The Daily Targum

The Wildcats collapse the paint. Northwestern gave up a game-winning layup with less than 2 seconds remaining to fall to Rutgers, 61-59.

Ben Pope, Reporter

Women’s Basketball

The game was tied with 11 seconds left when Northwestern inbounded the ball to its leading scorer, Nia Coffey. The junior forward bodied up against a Rutgers defender, turned toward the net and attempted to win the game with a layup.

Then the fairytale ending unraveled.

Coffey’s shot was blocked by Scarlet Knights center Rachel Hollivay, leading to a fast break the other direction. Forward Kahleah Copper fed her teammate, Tyler Scaife. Scaife outran Ashley Deary and lofted in the game-winning layup with 1.9 seconds left. Senior guard Maggie Lyon’s desperation half-court attempt ricocheted off the backboard.

And with that, the Wildcats (14-11, 3-10 Big Ten) fell 61-59 in heartbreaking fashion to Rutgers (15-10, 6-7) on Wednesday night — their seventh loss in their last eight games.

“(It was a) really bizarre finish, really hard on our team,” coach Joe McKeown said. “I feel like we did everything to win the game. We just didn’t finish it.”

Coffey and Lyon each contributed 19 points but took a combined 40 shots to get there, failing to help NU’s poor shooting percentage of 36.9 percent. Junior guard Christen Inman added 11 points and freshman center Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah pulled down a game-high nine rebounds.

The teams had entered the fourth quarter tied 44-44 and the end-to-end final seconds concluded a wild minute of 3-pointers.

Scaife tied the game at 56-56 with 42 seconds left, but Lyon answered 13 seconds later to restore the Cats’ 3-point edge. Scaife missed her chance to respond but Rutgers guard Briyona Canty chased down the rebound and hit a 3-pointer falling back to again level the game with 11 seconds to play.

The down-to-the-wire finish proved fitting for a contest in which the two teams were almost inseparable throughout. The largest lead for either team was 6 points and the final box score reflected almost identical stats on both sides: Rutgers out-rebounded the Cats 41-38, turned the ball over 12 times to NU’s nine and matched the Cats 6-6 in steals and 24-24 in made field goals.

After dropping 106 points in a double-overtime loss to Minnesota on Sunday, the Cats took a step back offensively in the first half and trailed 27-24 – shooting just 30.3 percent — at the break. The pace picked up as the game progressed and NU appeared poised to take control of the game midway through the fourth quarter before the Scarlet Knights rallied back.

Scaife scored 17 of her 24 points in the second half to lead the Scarlet Knights while Copper chipped in 20 points and eight boards. Only five players scored for each team.

Despite the loss, McKeown wasn’t dissatisfied with his team’s performance.

“I felt like we were in control, we just needed to make some more shots,” McKeown said. “I’m proud of our effort.”

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