Women’s Basketball: Gritty Northwestern falls to No. 23 Iowa in overtime thriller


MaryKate Anderson, Reporter

In the middle of a rough patch in its season, Northwestern came into Friday’s matchup against Iowa looking to get back to business. 

Despite great play from the Wildcats (11-7, 3-5 Big Ten) on all accounts, their three-game losing streak became four. The Wildcats could not close out their second upset over the No. 23 Hawkeyes (14-4, 8-1), falling 72-67 in overtime to Caitlin Clark and company. Last year, NU took down then-No. 22 Iowa on Jan. 6 in Iowa City and swept the team. 

The Cats showed a unique confidence that persisted from the first whistle to the last buzzer. Senior guard Veronica Burton finished with 19 points, junior guard Laya Hartman with a career-high 14 and freshman guard Melannie Daley with an admirable 13. 

Senior forward Courtney Shaw had an awe-inspiring performance, with 12 rebounds — seven on the offensive end — and two blocks, and she tied her career high with five steals. NU forced 25 Iowa turnovers and only had 12 of their own.

Efforts which would normally be a recipe for a signature NU win were ultimately a mere silver lining in a loss that stung more than usual.  

“Part of me feels like we deserved to win the game,” coach Joe McKeown said. “But you’ve gotta finish, whether that’s in the extra five minutes or if you have a chance to build on that lead.”

The Cats held a 14-point lead over Iowa halfway through the third quarter but slowly let it slip away until, with the help of a clutch late jumper from Daley and a missed shot from Clark, the two teams ended regulation tied 61-61.

But that ending is not without an asterisk. Clark’s missed jumper gave way to a defensive rebound by freshman guard Jillian Brown. Brown drove the ball down the court and, in what seemed like just enough time, passed it in transition to Hartman for the game-winning layup. 

The crowd roared and the NU bench leapt up in celebration, but the moment was fleeting. The game clock had inadvertently stopped at 3.9 seconds after Brown’s rebound and the referees determined that Hartman’s shot would not have gone off in time and sent the game into overtime. 

That confusion in the last 3.9 seconds of regulation threw off any good energy the Cats had going. NU went 2-for-8 from the field in overtime, Burton missed three of her four free throw attempts, and the Cats dropped their fourth straight contest. 

“As much as it does sting, we realize that we’d much rather lose a game like this than a game where we’re not going as hard as we can,” Burton said. 

The Cats’ trademark “Blizzard” defense seemed to confuse Iowa and limited their scoring yet again. NU held the Hawkeyes, who sat atop the Big Ten with 84.7 points per game, to a season-low 61 points in regulation. Their previous low in Big Ten play came against the Cats on Jan. 6.

NU has continuously struggled against recent opponents, but the team looks to continue its momentum at Purdue on Thursday. 

“If we play like that, we’ll beat the majority of the teams in the Big Ten,” Burton said. “That’s really the message at the end of the day. Be consistent with this type of effort, this type of energy, and just move forward.”

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