The Daily Northwestern

Women’s Basketball: Northwestern falls 80-59 to Michigan

Pallas+Kunaiyi-Akpanah+goes+up+for+a+contested+layup.+The+junior+picked+up+another+double-double+in+Sunday%E2%80%99s+loss+to+Michigan.
Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah goes up for a contested layup. The junior picked up another double-double in Sunday’s loss to Michigan.

Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah goes up for a contested layup. The junior picked up another double-double in Sunday’s loss to Michigan.

Daily file photo by Keshia Johnson

Daily file photo by Keshia Johnson

Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah goes up for a contested layup. The junior picked up another double-double in Sunday’s loss to Michigan.

Cassidy Jackson, Reporter

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Women’s Basketball


Northwestern couldn’t get out of its own head.

The Wildcats (9-14, 2-7 Big Ten) opened in a shooting slump in their 80-59 loss to Michigan (19-4, 8-2) on Sunday and couldn’t find their way out. Playing their second game against ranked competition in four days, the Cats play against the Wolverines contrasted with their game versus Maryland on Thursday, and NU capped off the weekend with a blowout loss.

When NU took on the Terrapins, who currently top the Big Ten, the Cats lost by just 3 points. Sunday though, NU struggled to keep up with Michigan. Coach Joe McKeown said he intends to view the games collectively.

“We played the two best teams probably in the league based on paper right now,” McKeown said. “For … six and a half quarters, we played great. … When you have a team with experience like that, they’re gonna capitalize on your mistakes that you can get away with against other teams. They made us pay.”

Sunday went poorly from the get-go for the Cats. The first quarter ended with NU down 13, a sharp contrast to the tight 26-23 first quarter three nights earlier.

McKeown’s largest concern about the first quarter wasn’t NU’s 13 points but Michigan’s 26, which he said proved the Cats weren’t executing on defense. McKeown said NU’s strong suit isn’t 3-pointers — the Cats went 5-for-20 from deep against Michigan — so keeping their opponents’ score low is crucial for an NU team that relies primarily on layups for points.

Once the Wolverines grabbed the lead two minutes into the first period, the Cats failed to keep up. The largest Wolverine lead reached 25 points; NU’s largest and only lead was 3 at the start of the first quarter. Sophomore forward Abi Scheid said frustration began to cloud the team’s play as Michigan began getting basket after basket while the Cats struggled to score.

“At Maryland, we all had the mindset going in that this is such a winnable game,” Scheid said. “We did (come in with that same mindset) for what coach said 25 minutes of the game, and once we started missing our shots and they started making them we just got down on ourselves.”

The Cats shot 39.7 percent compared to their 51 percent against Maryland. Freshman guard Jordan Hamilton struggled mightily, making only one out of her 11 shots.

Yet key contributions were made by sophomore forward Bryana Hopkins and junior forward Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah. Kunaiyi-Akpanah had 11, and Hopkins scored 10 more.

Overall, Scheid said the week provided the team with a high and a low. With their game against Maryland, Scheid said the team was able to prove themselves to their conference despite the loss, while the Michigan loss serves as a lesson.

“It (was) our chance to show a message to the Big Ten, and I think coming into this game that’s what we wanted to do,” Scheid said. “I think against Maryland we definitely did that. We lost by 3. This is just a minor setback for a major comeback.”

Email: cassidyjackson2019@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @CassidyKJackson

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