Women’s Basketball: Northwestern struggles to jumpstart offense in loss to Ohio State


Jonah Elkowitz/The Daily Northwestern

Senior guard Veronica Burton dribbles the ball against Ohio State. Burton led Northwestern with 16 points and six steals in its 74-61 Sunday loss to the Buckeyes.

MaryKate Anderson, Reporter

The excitement of Northwestern’s first home matchup in 23 days was overshadowed Sunday afternoon by a cold offense that struggled to keep pace with Ohio State.

Sporadic streaks appeared in a landscape of otherwise lackluster shooting, but the Wildcats (10-4, 2-1 Big Ten) fell 74-61 to the Buckeyes (11-3, 3-2). The loss broke NU’s six-game win streak and handed the Cats their first loss in Welsh-Ryan Arena this season. 

Despite starting slow and trailing for the majority of the game, NU never trailed by more than eight points in the first half, leaving hope for a comeback going into halftime. 

Coach Joe McKeown said he expected this to be the sort of game where the team came into the second half stronger, but ultimately the squad couldn’t come through.

NU began the third quarter with another slow start and was unable to recover. The offense lost momentum and, with no help from the defense, left the squad with a 19-point deficit with 10 minutes to play and little hope remaining. 

The fourth quarter proved better than the third, with the Cats outscoring Ohio State 24-18 behind an impressive 61.1 field goal percentage through the period. Nonetheless, it wasn’t enough to counteract the woes of the previous quarters and the squad finished the game shooting 40.0% from the field and 26.7% from beyond the arc. 

“I know my team,” McKeown said. “We’ll fight back this week and go from there.” 

Reliable senior guard Veronica Burton often proves to be the star of this team, and Sunday was no different. 

Burton tallied a team high of 16 points, plus five assists and eight rebounds. The reigning two-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year also stunned Ohio State with six steals, though ultimately not enough to jumpstart the offense on her own.

Forcing turnovers plays a crucial role in providing jolts of energy to any offense, and NU’s is no different. Before this game, the Cats forced 19.5 turnovers per game and turned over the ball 13.9 times on average.

NU was only able to force 13 turnovers Sunday — matching its season low — and turned the ball over a whopping 20 times — a season high. 

“We take a lot of pride in our defense,” Burton said. “So when we’re not connecting on that end, it’s hard for our offense to get going.” 

Without a commanding presence from their defense, the Cats struggled to revive their offense. This, combined with their struggles in retaining possession of the ball, proved pivotal in the game’s outcome. 

“We have to lock in and practice. We practice how we play and I don’t think we’ve had our best practices,” Burton said. “We have to come together as a unit, and I think we will. It just comes down to locking in and focusing, not taking anything too lightly.”

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Twitter: @mkeileen

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