Women’s Basketball: With loss, NU set as 8th seed in upcoming Big Ten Tournament


Daily file photo by Owen Stidman

Sydney Wood looks to pass. The freshman forward started again for the Cats on Sunday.

Ryan Wangman, Audio Editor

Women’s Basketball

In the last game of the regular season, Northwestern did not have enough in the tank to pull off an upset in a clash with Iowa on its Senior Night in Iowa City.

The Wildcats (16-13, 9-9 Big Ten) kept the game within reach in the first half but were absolutely outclassed after halftime, as the No. 12 Hawkeyes (23-6, 14-4) poured on 46 points on nearly 70 percent shooting from the floor to run away with a 74-50 victory.

While NU largely limited the effectiveness of the Big Ten’s leading scorer, Megan Gustafson, in the first half, the senior forward went on to wreak havoc on NU’s defense, netting 24 second-half points on 9-for-10 shooting. The Cats scored 27 points in the same time period.

Coach Joe McKeown said Gustafson’s success came as a result of a few factors.

“(Iowa) started hitting shots from other people,” McKeown said. “We had to extend a little more defensively, but you know, other players made really good passes during the second half — we couldn’t get around her. I think we got frustrated, couldn’t score, and that kind of played into some letdowns defensively.”

With the result, Iowa finished the season a perfect 15-0 at home, with Gustafson and fellow seniors Hannah Stewart and Tania Davis playing in their last regular season game in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Gustafson stole the show, but Stewart and Davis chipped in 12 and 7 points respectively to bolster the winning effort.

In addition to an uncharacteristically lackluster defense from NU, the team never seemed to find a rhythm offensively either. Its 50 points marked the second-lowest total for the Cats in a conference game this season. NU was an ice-cold 1-for-14 from beyond the arc, with solid 3-point shooters Veronica Burton and Abi Scheid combining to go 0-for-9 from distance.

Junior center Abbie Wolf provided a bright spot for the Cats, as she led the team with 15 points on 7-for-9 shooting. McKeown praised Wolf as a proven scoring threat inside.

“She’s had a great year in the Big Ten,” McKeown said. “We ended up — for the third time in the last four or five years — going .500 or better in the league, went 9-9, and I think she had a lot to do with that. I feel like she’s moving into the postseason excited for what’s ahead.”

NU, who could’ve finished the day as high as fifth place in the Big Ten with a win, instead saw its conference tournament seeding fall to No. 8. The Cats will face a tough opening test in Michigan State, a team that was nationally-ranked earlier this season and has taken down top-notch programs in Oregon, Maryland and Iowa. If NU survives that obstacle, its path doesn’t get any easier; Big Ten regular season champion Maryland awaits with a sterling 26-3 record and three proven scorers.

NU took down the Spartans in their sole meeting earlier this season, and McKeown hopes to repeat the result by building off of the momentum the Cats had throughout Big Ten play.

“It should be a great matchup Thursday,” McKeown said. “They’ve had a really good year overall you know, (we have) high aspirations.

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