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 drops 15th game of season versus Illinois

Daily file photo by Carlotta Angiolillo
Freshman guard Casey Harter attacks the basket versus Illinois defenders in their first matchup of the season on Jan. 14 at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

After putting together its largest win margin of the season Sunday afternoon versus Wisconsin, Northwestern fell short against Illinois Thursday night with a tough 82-71 loss — the ‘Cats’ second to Illinois this season.

Although they put up a scintillating performance against the Badgers, the Wildcats (8-15, 3-9 Big Ten) were unable to notch another victory as they headed south to face the Fighting Illini (11-11, 5-7 Big Ten).

NU started off the game stagnant on the offensive side at points during the first quarter, allowing Illinois to get ahead by a few baskets.

Junior forward Caileigh Walsh was responsible for half of the ‘Cats’ 12 points in the first period, with two baskets and two free throws. However, despite Walsh’s help, NU exited the quarter down 20-12.

Kicking off game action in the second quarter, Senior forward Paige Mott got the ‘Cats on the board right away, but the Fighting Illini went on a small run of their own to pick up an 11-point lead with less than nine minutes left to play in the quarter.

Shooting problems burdened NU throughout the game, and the visitors went on long scoring droughts during the second frame. Near the end of the quarter, the ‘Cats were down by 14 points ––  until sophomore forward Alana Goodchild made a jumper with just two minutes left in the half.

As the quarter neared its finish, the Fighting Illini went on a quick 6-0 run, ultimately sending NU into halftime down by 15 points. 

Coming out of the break, the ‘Cats attempted to make a comeback after their poor 32% shooting performance in the first half.

Mott was aggressive from the start of the quarter, hitting three straight baskets for NU to cut Illinois’ lead down to 10 points with just under eight minutes left in the quarter.

Both teams continued to trade baskets and explosive plays midway through the third period, and with about four minutes left in the quarter, graduate student guard Maggie Pina hit a triple, cutting the lead down to six points and keeping the comeback hopes alive.

Pina finished the night leading all ‘Cats scorers with 15 points on 3-of-5 shooting from downtown, marking a season-high for her. 

Yet, after NU cut Illinois’ lead down to just six points, the Fighting Illini went on a 14-1 run to close out the third quarter, taking momentum away from the ‘Cats heading into the final frame of this contest.

Heading into the fourth quarter, NU seemingly improved their previous shooting woes. Junior guard Hailey Weaver had 7 points on 3-5 shooting from the field in the quarter to help the ‘Cats inch in on the Illinois lead. 

NU went on to shoot 53% from the field and outscored the Fighting Illini 27-19 in the fourth. However, it was too late to salvage the game by the final quarter, and the ‘Cats went on to drop the season series versus their in-state rivals.

Now NU will have a week off to rest before they face another conference opponent in Purdue on February’s day of love. Coach Joe McKeown’s squad will hope to pick up some more conference wins before the season’s end.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @Gabriella_Egozi

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