Women’s Basketball: Nittany Lions pounce on Northwestern as Wildcats lose nine of last ten


Keshia Johnson/The Daily Northwestern

Ashley Deary races down the court. The Wildcats got off to a slow start, scoring only 20 points in the first half.

Max Schuman, Assistant Sports Editor

Women’s Basketball

It’s been a nightmare season for Northwestern, and it got worse Wednesday night.

Nothing went right on either end for the slumping Wildcats (14-13, 3-12 Big Ten), who dropped their ninth game out of their last 10, against Penn State (10-16, 5-10), 73-54.

Nittany Lions guard Lindsey Spann led all scorers with 18 points, while Penn State forward Kaliyah Mitchell scored 13 on an efficient 4-for-5 line from the field. Junior forward Nia Coffey led NU with 14 points on the night but was unable to help the Cats overcome sloppiness on both ends of the floor.

NU struggled out of the gate, trailing 25-14 as the Nittany Lions surged behind hot shooting from Spann. The sophomore shot 4-for-4 from behind the arc to score all 12 of her first-quarter points and put the Cats in another early hole after they fell behind 25-5 in the first period against then-No. 5 Maryland on Sunday.

Coach Joe McKeown said after the game that he didn’t know why his team got off to another slow start.

“We looked tired,” he said. “(Penn State) just seemed to catch us playing on our heels.”

Things got worse for the Cats in the second quarter, as NU went ice cold offensively. The Cats started well from the field, going 6-for-12 in the first quarter, but slumped to just 6 points in the second quarter as Penn State seized a 41-20 lead going into halftime.

Both teams struggled with ball control throughout the game, with Penn State committing 24 turnovers and NU committing 21. But the Nittany Lions made up for their turnovers with a scintillating offensive performance, shooting 53.8 percent from the field and 63.6 percent from deep on the night.

Meanwhile, the Cats scuffled offensively as one of their stars struggled to settle into the game offensively. Junior guard Ashley Deary failed to make much of an impact for NU offensively, scoring just 5 points and turning the ball over four times on a night when the Cats would need all of their players clicking to pull off a comeback.

NU came out with energy in the second half, closing the gap with an 8-2 run to start the third quarter behind two 3s from senior guard Maggie Lyon, but the Cats’ defense wasn’t up to the task of a big comeback. Penn State always seemed a step ahead of NU’s rotations on the perimeter and controlled the paint offensively, snagging nine offensive rebounds and scoring 34 points in the paint to the Cats’ 18.

“I thought we came out ready to play the third quarter, but then we couldn’t get stops,” McKeown said. “Just a lot of defensive breakdowns.”

NU managed to cut the lead back to 15 with 4:49 left in the third, but an 11-2 run to close the quarter gave the Nittany Lions a 61-37 cushion to start the fourth quarter that proved too much for the Cats to overcome. The Cats chipped away at the lead in the fourth quarter and got back to 20 points with 4:41 remaining in the game, but ultimately weren’t able to climb all the way back.

McKeown said Penn State’s ability to make shots at the right times gave his team little chance to fight back.

“It gave them a chance to get some momentum, and we didn’t respond like we normally do,” McKeown said. “We’re going to have to put this behind us.”

This article was updated to clarify Maryland’s ranking when Northwestern played the Terrapins.

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