Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Women’s basketball: Northwestern’s prolonged scoring droughts to blame in rivalry loss to Illinois

Carlotta Angiolillo/The Daily Northwestern
Freshman guard Casey Harter drives toward the lane.

A game that could’ve delivered Northwestern its first back-to-back conference wins in two years easily turned into the Wildcats graciously gifting Illinois its first conference win of the season Sunday.

Freshman guard Casey Harter opened the game for the Wildcats (7-10, 2-4 Big Ten) with a driving layup, bringing NU its sole lead of 2-0. 

The initial back-and-forth misses from both squads made for a glimmer of heat in Evanston, quickly blown out with the Fighting Illini’s Camille Hobby pouring in 11 points by the end of the first quarter — equaling the hosts’ total output. 

Once the ’Cats had those 11 points, Illinois continued to pile on the pressure, while NU could only sit back and watch. Although the ’Cats had several windows to make Sunday’s rout competitive, consecutive misses and a lethargic defense worsened the blow. 

The ‘Cats were outscored 25-10 in the second quarter. Throughout the first half, NU had numerous breaks in the game where neither team scored for three-plus minutes. 

The home squad was 6-9 when they were down at halftime, and 1-8 when losing by 10 points or more. Once the ’Cats fell into a spiral of missed shots, it became hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. 

Starting the new year, NU has been without its head coach, Joe McKeown, for the last two weeks, with associate head coach Tangela Smith filling in for the wily veteran. 

“We’ve got to find a way to dig deeper when we go out there and just play a full 40 minutes of basketball, and that’s something we did not do today,” Smith said. “And we’ve been very inconsistent during the year.”

By the time the third quarter started, the ’Cats found themselves in a 24-point deficit. 

Despite the large scoring gap between the rivals, NU did muster up more scoring once Illinois racked up eight fouls. Graduate student guard Maggie Pina and junior guard Melannie Daley made an effort to drag the ’Cats along, scoring nine of the team’s 15 points in the third. 

Still, Pina wasn’t pleased with the visitors’ ability to seemingly score at will.

“They just were able to get to the basket, and we weren’t there,” Pina said.

The Fighting Illini’s foul trouble did grant NU a grace period of free throws –– so much so that none of the ’Cats scored a field goal for a six-plus minute span that stretched between the third and fourth quarters. 

Although its bench had entered the waning minutes of Sunday’s blowout, Illinois continued to push the pace of the game and battled toward the rim in a 93-52 victory. Throughout the game, Northwestern made five or less field goals in each quarter. 

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @taylorhancock23

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