Northwestern needed a win against Ohio State on Thursday night, and at points, it looked as though they may just get it, but yet another tough fourth quarter saw the 7th ranked Buckeyes pull out a 76-73 victory. Here are our rapid thoughts:
- Foul trouble is always an issue for NU, and tonight was no different. Ashley Deary and Christen Inman both picked up 3 first-half fouls, which forced the ‘Cats to dig a little deeper in their bench. Credit to Jordan Hankins for giving Northwestern good minutes off the bench at the end of the first half. Deary and Inman stayed out of foul trouble, a big reason Northwestern was able to hang around.
- Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah must love seeing Ohio State on the other side of the court. After a 14-point, 14-board performance last time out against the Buckeyes, PKA was a force on the glass again tonight, finishing with 16 rebounds, while chipping in a solid 6 points on 3-4 shooting.
- Cait Craft isn’t exactly known for her scoring, but she hit 3 big buckets from behind the arc to give the Buckeyes some much needed points.
- Kelsey Mitchell is one of the best scorers in the country, there’s no question about that, but even the best have a half or two off, and tonight’s first half was certainly that. Mitchell was 0-8 from the field, and had just 1 first half point, by far a season low. Mitchell’s struggles continued into the third quarter, but she was able to heat up during the fourth quarter, and was key in Ohio State getting back into the ball game, finishing with a game-high 27 points.
- Nia Coffey is Northwestern’s most consistent player, and she was fantastic tonight. Coffey scored down low, and spread the defense from the perimeter, leading the Wildcats with 23 points.
- For a game that lacked quality at points during the first half, things got very exciting during a well-played second half. Certainly a game worthy of watching.
- Watching Northwestern’s rotation at the 5 spot has been interesting all year. PKA was a monster down low today, but it was interesting to see Allie Tuttle get the backup minutes down low. Tuttle’s had moments this year, but was called for a foul on Kelsey Mitchell’s made 3 at the end of the 3rd quarter, a tough blow for NU.
- Northwestern’s struggled in fourth quarters this year, and those issues showed up again tonight. With only 6 or 7 solid players, the ‘Cats have a razor thin margin at the end of games, and have struggled to pull games out this season at times.
- This was a massive game for Northwestern’s NCAA Tournament hopes, and the loss really, really hurts. At 2-7 in conference, Northwestern is running out of chances. Iowa on Sunday is a must-win.