Women’s Basketball: Northwestern unable to keep up with Nebraska, loses regular season finale 80-64


Daily file photo by Angeli Mittal

Junior forward Paige Mott drives to the basket. Mott scored a team-high 18 points against Nebraska Sunday.

Lucas Kim, Social Media Editor

Northwestern’s last match against Nebraska on Feb. 6 saw an improbable fourth quarter comeback attempt fall short as the Cornhuskers defeated the Wildcats 78-66.

In that game, NU entered the fourth quarter down 22 and narrowed the deficit down to 12 before the final buzzer.

In Sunday’s rematch between the two squads, the Cats (9-20, 2-16 Big Ten) were on track to turn the tables after heading into halftime tied at 30 apiece. However, an offensive flurry from Nebraska (16-13, 8-10 Big Ten) put the game out of NU’s reach, with the game ending at 80-64.

The Cornhuskers –– who were coming off a huge 90-57 upset victory over No. 25 Illinois –– began the game cold, shooting only 4-of-13 from the field and 1-of-6 from beyond the arc. They also turned the ball over six times in the first quarter.

Unfortunately for the Cats, they came out even colder. NU missed 17 of its first 20 shots of the game, going 1-of-7 from three. As a result, the first quarter ended with Nebraska on top 12-7.

The offense picked up in the following period with both teams trading punches like a heavyweight boxing bout. The Cornhuskers opened the quarter on a 7-2 run to extend their lead to 10.

Next, freshman guard Caroline Lau stepped up to the challenge in only the third start of her career. Lau –– who replaced injured senior guard Kaylah Rainey in the starting lineup –– scored six of the Cats’ 8-0 run that cut the Cornhuskers’ lead to two. 

Nebraska immediately responded with an 8-2 run that extended the lead back to eight. But, once again, NU fought its way back.

Following a layup from sophomore forward Caileigh Walsh, Nebraska coach Amy Williams was called for a technical foul after arguing with a referee over a non-foul call. Sophomore guard Jillian Brown sank both technical free throws, and the Cats found themselves down only three with 18 seconds remaining in the half.

Gaining possession due to the technical foul, Lau found sophomore guard Hailey Weaver in the corner for a game-tying three-pointer that went through with only four seconds left. NU ended the quarter on a 7-0 run within the last 43 seconds.

In the second quarter alone, junior forward Paige Mott went 4-of-4 with eight points and Lau went 3-of-3 with six points as the Cats shot a collective 66.7%.

The second half, however, was a different story for NU. After finding success with their full-court pressure in the first half, the Cats failed to contain an aggressive Cornhuskers offense.

Two consecutive Mott layups later put NU ahead by three, and Nebraska responded with an 11-2 run, seizing the lead for good.

When it seemed like the Cats were destined to regain the lead after Weaver’s three-pointer, the Cornhuskers immediately put that hope to bed with nine straight points to extend their lead to 12, its largest of the game.

Nebraska sophomore center Alexis Markowski scored 12 points in the third quarter alone. As a whole, Nebraska went 4-of-7 from beyond the arc in addition to going 8-of-9 from the line. 

The fourth quarter brought more of the same as NU struggled with foul trouble. After scoring a team-high 18 points, Mott picked up her fifth foul and exited the game with 4:04 left on the clock.

Less than a minute later, graduate student guard Sydney Wood committed her fifth foul. Weaver also had to be careful as she had four fouls of her own.

By the game’s conclusion, the Cornhuskers extended their lead to 16 and scored their eighth conference win.

A large part of their win can be credited to a difference in foul calls. Nebraska got to the line significantly more often than its counterpart, shooting 27 free throws compared to the Cats’ 11.

The Cornhuskers also excelled on the glass, grabbing 23 more rebounds and seven more offensive rebounds than NU.

For the Cats, their two conference wins is the worst in coach Joe McKeown’s 15 years with the program and worst since the 2007-08 season.

Lying at the bottom of the conference standings, 14th seed NU is set to face 11th seed Rutgers in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament on Wednesday. The Scarlet Knights defeated the Cats 62-48 earlier in February.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @lucaskim_15

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