For three days, the Cinderella shoe fit for the ‘Cats as they topped Wisconsin and upset Minnesota and Indiana on their way to the Big Ten Tournament semifinals, becoming the first 12 seed ever to make it to the semifinal.
But alas, the Cinderella run would go no further as Northwestern ran into a talented, and deep Maryland team, falling 83 to 62.
Early on, the ‘Cats and Terrapins went back and forth in the first quarter, with Nia Coffey scoring all eight of the ‘Cats first points. But as Northwestern went cold, the Terrapins went on a 22-6 run to build their lead up to seven and it looked like this one could get away from the ‘Cats, especially with Christen Inman on the bench with three fouls.
Northwestern though, was able to pull within seven, going on a 10-0 run, and went into halftime down just 37-30. At the half, Northwestern was shooting just 34 percent and 18 percent from three.
The three looked like a focus for the ‘Cats early on, as Northwestern shot 11, hitting just 2, in the first quarter, but Northwestern switched it up in the second quarter, shooting only 3 three-pointers and finding a better offensive rhythm heading into halftime.
But the ‘Cats didn’t start well in the second half, quickly falling behind by 12 as Maryland picked up the first five points of the half, and eventually pulled out to a 14-point lead. To make matters worse, Coffey picked three quick fouls in the third quarter.
The ‘Cats were able to keep pace with Maryland, down double-digits for much of the second half, but with Coffey providing the only reliable scoring presence for the ‘Cats, there just wasn’t enough left in the tank.
Ashley Deary couldn’t find her shot, shooting 0-14 from the floor with 5 points, while Inman added just 6. Allie Tuttle was the ‘Cats second leading scorer with just 10, while Coffey led the ‘Cats with 31, breaking the Big Ten Tournament record for most points in a single tournament.
And as game moved further into the fourth quarter, Maryland began pulling further away, especially as Coffey went to the bench with four fouls.
In the end, the Terrapins were just too much for a ‘Cats team that was played their fourth game in four days, shooting upwards of 50 percent, with five players in double-figures.
But even though the ‘Cats weren’t able continue their Cinderella story, this loss shouldn’t take away from their run over the past three days. Without Maggie Lyon, Northwestern managed to pull it out against Wisconsin and pull off two straight upsets against the four and five seeds in the Big Ten tournament.
The ‘Cats could have just laid down, and moved on from this season, but instead they hung tough and pulled off three wins in three days, mostly likely extending their season with a WNIT berth.
The Wildcats finish the season 18-16, and await the status of their postseason hopes. On the outside of the WNIT looking in before the tournament, the ‘Cats run may have been enough to earn them a big to the 64-team WNIT.