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 battles in 74-60 loss to Michigan

Sammy Krimstein/The Daily Northwestern
Sophomore guard Caroline Lau rolls in a layup.

Despite heading into halftime down just two points –– the closest deficit in a while for Northwestern this season –– coach Joe McKeown’s squad collapsed shortly into the third quarter, extending its losing streak to five games after falling 74-60 to Michigan on Saturday.

Junior forward Caileigh Walsh led the Wildcats (8-19, 3-13 Big Ten) in scoring with 14 points, and junior guard Melannie Daley added 12. Four players, however, scored in double figures for the Wolverines (17-11, 8-8 Big Ten), ultimately solidifying a Michigan victory.

“I think with the frustration of our not winning, we’re still playing really hard,” McKeown said. “There’s a silver lining.”

The Wolverines leapt to a 7-0 lead to begin the game before a pair of Walsh triples cut the lead to 9-6. Daley hit a foul shot and a floater to tie the game before dishing a pass to junior guard Hailey Weaver, who drilled from deep to give the hosts their first lead. 

The first frame ended with the Wolverines up 14-12. Each team shot less than 30% from the field –– Michigan made just 4-of-18 attempts and NU converted only 4-of-15. 

Although the Wolverines managed to build a 24-16 lead, a Walsh trey –– her third made on three attempts –– truncated the deficit. 

The Michigan lead hovered around five points until the final minutes of the second quarter, when Walsh converted an acrobatic and-one, and graduate transfer guard Maggie Pina sank a triple to cut the lead to just two points. 

The two teams went to the half with the Maize and Blue leading 30-28.

“At halftime, it felt like we were up and we had the momentum, we had the crowd behind us,” McKeown said.

Unfortunately for the ‘Cats, Michigan’s shooting struggles stopped shortly into the second half. Wolverine forward Chyra Evans made a layup coming out of the break and Elissa Brett added a three-pointer. A bad pass led to a fast-break layup, and another NU turnover set up a Michigan three-pointer, forcing McKeown to burn a timeout with 8:24 remaining. 

Out of the timeout, Michigan capitalized on another turnover with a 3-pointer before Wolverine guard Jordan Hobbs made 1-of-2 at the stripe. After a missed shot by the ‘Cats, Michigan’s Laila Phelia converted on an and-one to extend the lead to 47-28 with 7:14 remaining in the third quarter. 

On the ensuing possession, NU sophomore guard Caroline Lau mercifully banked in a layup, putting a tourniquet on the 17-0 Michigan run — but the damage done to the ‘Cats’ chances of winning was fatal.

“When they went on their run, it was like, ‘what are we doing?’” Daley said. “It should never get to the point where it’s 17-0 coming out of halftime.”

NU answered with a run of its own toward the end of the third quarter, scoring 15 unanswered points and cutting the deficit to eight points. They held the Wolverines without a basket for over six minutes, forcing Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico to call a timeout with seven minutes left in the game.

“We need to play defense like that the entire game instead of on stretches,” McKeown said. “That’s been a challenge for us all year.”

Hobbs hit a triple for Michigan with 5:38 left in the contest to extend the Wolverine chokehold back to double digits. The ‘Cats couldn’t claw back, and resorted to fouls down nine points in hopes of a miracle that never came. Michigan converted its free throws and NU dropped its fifth straight game, their 10th loss in the past 11 contests. 

Seven ‘Cats recorded two or more fouls Saturday, and three recorded three fouls, forcing McKeown to rotate through his bench early and often. Eleven NU players took the court against Michigan.

The ‘Cats have trotted out several different starting lineups this year, and their veteran coach has been unafraid to experiment with lineups. 

“We saw it today, people really stepping up… I think that’s really encouraging,” McKeown said. “The future is really bright.”

NU plays its last home game of the season against No. 14 Indiana on Tuesday before concluding the regular season with a trip to Rutgers.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @HenryFrieman

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