Coming off their worst performance of the season last Sunday in East Lansing, Northwestern flipped the script in a big way Thursday night, beating No. 5 Ohio State 86-82. It’s Northwestern’s first win against a Top-10 team since 1996. Here are some quick takeaways from the game:
- What a performance from the Wildcats. Ohio State never led in the game and Northwestern led by as many as 23 in the second half. Ohio State had a furious rally in the final minutes, but was unable to fully close the gap as Northwestern hit their free throws at the end of the game. This certainly counts as a Top 100 RPI victory for a team looking to improve their NCAA Tournament resume.
- The win was certainly bittersweet, however, as Nia Coffey left the game in the fourth quarter with an apparent knee injury. She was down on the court while play continued at the other end of the court, and limped badly to the locker room. Her condition is unknown at this point, but it didn’t look good. Coffey had 23 points and 5 boards before her injury.
- Maggie Lyon was on fire for much of the game, scoring 24 points and going five-of-10 from three-point range. The senior also had seven assists and seven rebounds.
- While Lyon and Coffey were the biggest scorers, the player with biggest impact on the night may have been Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah. In only her second start of the season, PKA had her best game of the year, putting up 14 points and 14 rebounds. Her rebounding and hustle were essential.
- Speaking of rebounding, Northwestern certainly responded in that category tonight. NU outrebounded the Buckeyes 46-35, including 19 offensive boards that lead to an 18-12 advantage in second-chance points. While the rebounding numbers were not good in the ‘Cats’ losses to Penn State, Purdue and Michigan State, Joe McKeown’s crew grabbed enough 50-50 balls on Thursday to lead the team to victory.
- Northwestern was impressive defensively in the first half, limiting the Buckeyes to only 30 points and shutting down Kelsey Mitchell after a hot start. In the second half, it was Northwestern’s clutch play that was impressive. After Coffey’s injury and a Buckeyes run, back-to-back buckets by Christen Inman and Lyon kept the ‘Cats ahead for good.