It was a fun one in Minneapolis on Wednesday night, but Joe McKeown’s squad couldn’t quite pull out a victory at Williams Arena. In a game where Northwestern trailed big in the first half and every shot seemed to fall for both teams, the Wildcats’ second half rally fell short and the Minnesota Golden Gophers held on for a 95-92 victory. Here are some quick observations from the game:
- After the team’s big win over No. 5 Ohio State last week, Northwestern has now dropped two in a row. While the ‘Cats’ loss in College Park on Sunday came against one of the nation’s elite teams, this loss hurts Northwestern’s tournament resume. Minnesota boasts an explosive offense, but is a middle-of-the-road Big Ten team.
- The end of the game didn’t come without some excitement, however, as Lydia Rohde banked in a three to reduce the deficit to one, and when down three on the final possession Ashley Deary missed a desperate shot at the buzzer.
- Both teams shot lights out. Northwestern went 50 percent from the floor while Minnesota hit nearly 47 percent of their looks. Both teams connected on 11 three-pointers, but the difference may have been free throw shooting, where Minnesota had a slight edge (14-16 compared to 11-13).
- The Gophers jumped ahead early and stayed there for most of the game, leading by as many as 16 in the second half. Much of that offensive load was carried by the Gophers’ two best offensive players, Rachel Banham (32 points) and Carlie Wagner (23 points). Banham had 19 points at halftime.
- Any lead that either team enjoyed seemed short-lived with the offenses playing so well. Northwestern came back to take an 83-80 lead in the fourth quarter, only to see it slip away in the final minutes. Turnovers hurt the Wildcats down the stretch, and Minnesota made their free throws when Northwestern attempted to extend the game.
- Two games after a seemingly bad ankle injury, Nia Coffey appears to be doing just fine. The Minnesota native dropped 27 points and four rebounds despite sitting for much of the first half with foul trouble.
- Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah responded from a scoreless effort against Maryland with a solid 13 points and 12 rebounds, good for her second career double-double. Northwestern hopes PKA will continue to gain confidence as the season goes on, and that performances like this start to become the norm.
- Maggie Lyon had another great game offensively, and now has a big accolade to go along with it. Lyon had 22 points, six rebounds and four assists on the night for Northwestern, and also hit four of her eight three-point attempts to move into first in program history in three-pointers made. The senior’s season–and career–have been phenomenal.
- Northwestern will look to bounce back when they host Indiana on Sunday afternoon.