Women’s Basketball: Northwestern loses fourth game in a row, fall to last in Big Ten rankings


Wendy Huang/ The Daily Northwestern

Three Northwestern defenders swarm an Indiana player. The Cats held the Hoosiers to 13% shooting beyond the arc.

Lucas Kim, Social Media Editor

For the first time in his Northwestern coaching tenure, Joe McKeown has fallen to 0-5 in conference play.

Following losses against Illinois on Thursday and No. 6 Indiana on Sunday, the Wildcats (6-9, 0-5 Big Ten) have now lost four straight games.

On Thursday night, NU was a few missed shots away from getting its first conference win. The team showed resilience, coming back from a 18-point deficit at halftime to get within two points of the Fighting Illini (14-3, 4-2 Big Ten).

The Cats, down 45-27 at halftime, roared back with a 29-point third quarter and excellent final period to quickly close the gap. Graduate student guard Sydney Wood and senior guard Kaylah Rainey combined for 12 points in the period to lead the resurgence. However, late missed opportunities prevented NU from tying the game, which ended at 85-79.

Wood ended the game with 19 points, five assists, five rebounds, three steals and two blocks filling up the staff sheet. Graduate student forward Courtney Shaw led an impressive 32-point bench effort with 17 points of her own. Four different Cats scored double digits in the loss, too.

Unfortunately for NU, the first half of Sunday’s game felt like more of the same. The Cats once again found themselves down at halftime, but this time, a comeback seemed far from reach against the No. 6-ranked Hoosiers (14-1, 3-1 Big Ten).

“Indiana’s ranked pretty highly in the country for a reason,” Wood said. “Against a team like Indiana, you’re going to struggle to come back if you dig yourself in as deep of a hole as we did.”

Despite a valiant defensive performance, NU struggled to contain star forward Mackenzie Holmes, who finished with a double-double of 24 points and 13 boards. Graduate student guard Grace Berger helped out with 16 points in her first game since injuring her knee in November.

Down 40-24 at the half, the Cats struggled to keep up physically, getting outrebounded and giving up 19 second chance points. The team also lost the turnover battle, scoring 11 fewer points off turnovers.

“We just got to rebound,”  junior guard Jasmine McWilliams said. “That’s effort, that’s putting a body on someone and getting that board. If we had gotten that first rebound, they wouldn’t be getting those second chance shots obviously. So that’s something we’ve got to work on.”

Indiana’s wire-to-wire victory ended at 72-50, proving why it is one of the top squads in the nation.

The Hoosiers’ stifling defense held NU to its second lowest scoring total this season as no Cat finished with more than 10 points. Both Wood and McWilliams finished with exactly 10, while two other teammates finished with eight points.

And with no player averaging more than 12 points per game, NU continues to search for its offensive identity.

“We gotta score the ball. That’s, to me, our biggest challenge. I think we defend, as a program, I think that’s built into us,” McKeown said. “Offensively, we just got to find some easy baskets. We missed layups, we missed a lot around the rim.”

The Cats will be back on the road to play Iowa on Wednesday. Last year, the two teams played three times, with Iowa winning twice, including in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament.

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