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 finds production from unlikely players in loss to Penn State

Daily file photo by Aria Wozniak
Northwestern players huddle before action.

With coach Joe McKeown back in action after missing six consecutive games,  Northwestern’s starting lineup saw several changes in its 76-65 loss to Penn State Thursday.

Graduate student guard Maggie Pina started her second consecutive game, and senior forward Jasmine McWilliams got the nod as the Wildcats (7-12, 2-6 Big Ten) faced the Nittany Lions (14-5, 5-3 Big Ten) in a rematch of a 40-point PSU win earlier this month.

Both players wasted no time announcing their presence on the stat sheet. After Penn State’s Shay Ciezki scored the first basket of the game, a 3-pointer, Pina caught a pass from McWilliams and fired from beyond the arc to tie the game.

On the ensuing possession, McWilliams blocked a Penn State shot, and Pina rebounded. An NU miss meant another Nittany Lions possession –– and another McWilliams block.

McWilliams recorded a team-high five assists and added two blocks. Pina played 30 minutes, tallied 11 points and nabbed a team-high three steals. 

The Boston University transfer has seen a large uptick in minutes in recent weeks –– positively correlated with her scoring output. Through November and December, Pina hovered around a four points-per-game average –– in her last five outings, she has scored an average of 8.8 points per game. 

“I still think my role is the same while my minutes have gone up.” Pina said, “But it’s nice to know the faith the coaches have in me.” 

Penn State leapt out to a 12-point lead with six minutes remaining in the second quarter, evoking frightful memories of the two teams’ last meeting, but the ’Cats battled back. Junior forward Melannie Daley, coming off the bench, went a perfect 5-of-5 from the field in the first half with six points coming in the second quarter.

Foul trouble, however, limited Daley’s minutes. She picked up three fouls before the first half ended and was unable to match her efficiency in the second half.

“I need to be better defensively to not let that happen so I’m not on the court,” Daley said. 

NU went to the locker room at halftime down 38-32 and tied the game early in the third quarter after a pull-up jumper from freshman guard Casey Harter.  Knotted at 41-41, McWilliams dished to Pina in the corner, who drained it for the ’Cats’ first second-half lead in 15 days.

Penn State retook the lead, but junior guard Hailey Weaver –– in relief of Daley, who picked up her fourth foul –– scored a massive corner 3-pointer to cut the deficit to just one point midway through the third quarter. The ’Cats later tied the game.

“We’re seeing people step up in practice,” McKeown said, “and I think they deserve opportunities to carry over into the game.”

Penn State led by four points entering the fourth quarter, but Pina drilled from deep –– her third three-pointer –– to keep NU in it. Ultimately, after a fluctuating fourth quarter, the Nittany Lions went on a 7-0 run during crunch time and slammed the door.

The ’Cats face a daunting challenge in Bloomington on Sunday as they take on No. 14 Indiana and their star forward Mackenzie Holmes. Following that game, it’s back to the Welsh-Ryan Arena in front of a sell-out crowd as reigning national player of the year Caitlin Clark and the No. 5 Iowa Hawkeyes come to Evanston on Jan. 31.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @HenryFrieman

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