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Photo Credit: Nusports.com

In what will go down as one of the worst shooting performances of the season for Joe McKeown’s bunch, Northwestern fell to 1-3 in the Big Ten after a 74-51 loss to Michigan State in East Lansing. Here are our post-game thoughts:

  • Joe McKeown changed things up in his starting lineup, replacing Christen Johnson with Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah. It was only the second time this season that Johnson didn’t start (the other being a loss in the non-conference slate against DePaul), and while the move may have helped rebounding, it overall had little effect on the play of the ‘Cats to start the game at least, it’ll be interesting to see what the decision is regarding the starting lineup is going forward. 
  • Heading into the Purdue game, it was clear that the next 4 games for Northwestern would be crucial. Many, myself included, thought that Purdue and Michigan State would be the two more winnable games of a stretch that concludes with match-ups against Ohio State Thursday and a trip to Maryland next Sunday. Now that the ‘Cats have started the stretch 0-2, Northwestern faces a very real possibility of starting Big Ten play 1-5. The ‘Cats will need an A+ game in order to beat either the Buckeyes or Terrapins.
  • Against Purdue on Thursday, Northwestern’s core 4 of Deary, Inman, Coffey, and Lyon scored 69 of the team’s 71 points. The story was no different against the Spartans, with those for scoring all 24 points in the first half, and 44 of a total 51. Depth is obviously not a strength of this team, but in order to return to the NCAA Tournament, they’ll need to get contributions from players not in that core 4. 
  • Christen Inman has been the most consistent player for Northwestern this year, and that was no different today. On a day in which most of her teammates struggled, Inman finished with 11 points on 11 shots, a decent output on a day when those around her really struggled. 
  • Northwestern came into today shooting 33% from beyond the arc, but struggled mightily today. The ‘Cats finished 3-26 from 3-point land, good for just 11%. When shots aren’t falling, Northwestern really struggles to score, and when they struggle to score, they (obviously) struggle to win. Sometimes basketball is just as simple as making shots, which Northwestern just didn’t do today. 
  • On the WNUR Women’s Basketball Podcast Friday, Ian, Ari, and I talked about Aerial Powers as a potential All-Big Ten caliber player. She did more than prove us right this afternoon, finishing with 21 points and displaying a versatile skill set to say the least. What makes Powers so good is her ability to not only score efficiently in the post, but then also take the defense outside and knock down tough 3-pointers. She’s no doubt one of the Big Ten’s best players.
  • Northwestern’s best stretch of the game was the opening 2 and a half minutes of the second half, when they went on a  8-0 run to cut the MSU lead to 10. However, a well-called timeout from Michigan State got the momentum back and the Spartans were able to counter with a  14-0 run that featured a transition pull-up three from Aerial Powers, and effectively put the game away.
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