Women’s Basketball: Northwestern collapses in 79-54 home loss to Maryland


Alyce Brown/Daily Senior Staffer

Junior forward Paige Mott looks for a shot in the paint. Mott poured in 15 points and tallied two rebounds against Maryland.

Jake Epstein, Assistant Sports Editor

Northwestern looked to catch lightning in a bottle against No. 8 Maryland on a rainy Thursday night. The Wildcats (8-16, 1-12 Big Ten) provided an early test for the Terrapins (20-5, 11-3 Big Ten) but cataclysmically crumbled in a 79-54 home loss.

NU won the opening tip, but Maryland guard Shyanne Sellers pickpocketed junior guard Jasmine McWilliams and sank the contest’s opening basket on the fastbreak. The Terrapins tacked on five more points before sophomore forward Caileigh Walsh and McWilliams scored on consecutive possessions to bring the score to 7-4.

Graduate student guard Sydney Wood drove into the paint and finished through contact to give the Cats their first lead of the contest with 3:20 left in the first frame. The Maryland native hit from the charity stripe, giving NU a close two-point advantage.

“We came out ready to play,” coach Joe McKeown said.

Maryland guard Diamond Miller brought the game level at 15 apiece after a 1-of-2 trip to the foul line. However, the Cats’ sophomore guard Jillian Brown drilled a corner three off freshman guard Caroline Lau’s third assist of the first quarter to put NU in front, 18-15. Brown picked up a foul on the ensuing Terrapin possession, but she closed the period on a high note, knocking down a buzzer-beater and cementing a 20-16 lead after 10 minutes.

Following a promising opening frame, the Cats’ momentum fell off a cliff. McKeown’s squad missed its first six shots of the second quarter, and Maryland rode a 9-0 run to a 25-20 margin with 6:04 remaining in the period. After four scoreless minutes, McKeown called his first timeout.

“(Maryland) switched to zone,” graduate student forward Courtney Shaw said. “That was a look we didn’t adjust to quick enough.”

The stoppage did little to activate NU’s dormant shooting, providing a mere momentary pause from an offensive meltdown.

Despite converting 50% of its first-quarter field goals, the squad’s streaky offensive unit missed all 13 shots in the second frame. Shaw scored the team’s lone two points at the free-throw line, and the Cats entered the half in a 34-22 hole.

“We’ve just got to shoot the ball better,” McKeown said. 

The Terrapin takeover carried on as the second half began. Maryland coach Brenda Frese’s squad scored the opening seven points of the third quarter before Wood converted NU’s first basket in more than 12 minutes. The Cats caught a glimpse of hope after Lau’s three-pointer capped a 7-0 run, but Maryland guard Bri McDaniel answered with an outside shot of her own, kickstarting a 9-0 Terrapin run.

Brown quelled the quick Maryland surge with four flushed foul shots, and junior forward Paige Mott poured in the period’s final five points, carrying her tally to 11.

“I thought Paige Mott really battled hard,” McKeown said.

With vast room for improvement from the second frame, NU knocked down six third-quarter field goals and trailed 55-40 with 10 minutes to play.

Down 15 points entering the final quarter, the Cats’ offense needed to return to, if not eclipse, its first frame form. Instead, the Terrapins crushed any hopes of a comeback, forcing five consecutive turnovers and tallying the period’s primary 12 points.

While Mott turned in a seventh straight double-digit scoring output of 15 points on 7-of-14 shooting, NU saw little offensive production elsewhere and stumbled to its third consecutive loss in a 79-54 finish.

The Cats hit the road Sunday for a tussle with Purdue. McKeown’s team will hope to improve on the boards, where it was out-rebounded 45-30 on Thursday.

“We’re a little down now, but we’re not going to stay there,” McKeown said. “We’re doing a lot of great things — we’ve just got to get into a rhythm offensively.”

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Twitter: @jakeepste1n

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