‘Cats fall 80-59 to no. 16 Michigan

By: Ari Levin

Northwestern Women’s Basketball lost Sunday afternoon to a very good Michigan team. The 16th ranked Wolverines proved to be a little too much for the Wildcats to handle, and Michigan came out ahead by a final score of 80-59.

The loss moves Northwestern to 9-14 on the season, 2-7 in Big Ten play. Michigan continues their six-game win streak, they are now 19-4 overall, and their 8-2 record in the conference is second behind Maryland.

Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah scored for Northwestern on the opening possession, and Jordan Hamilton hit a three-pointer a minute later to make it a 5-2 lead. But right after that, Michigan went on a 14-0 run to take a double-digit lead and put up a whopping 26 points in the first quarter. The Wildcats outscored the Wolverines in the second quarter, but they still trailed by nine points at the half and were unable to make up the deficit.

Throughout the first half Northwestern struggled to defend Michigan’s 6-foot-5-inch center Hallie Thome. Thome scored 19 points on 8-11 shooting before halftime, and 25 total in the game. Oceana Hamilton drew her first start of the season as Northwestern tried to match up against Michigan’s bigs, but played just 11 minutes. “We wanted to start a bigger lineup to match up with her,” Coach Joe McKeown said after the game.

Katelynn Flaherty, Michigan’s leading scorer, was held to seven points in the first half. But she came out hot in the third quarter hitting four straight from behind the arc, having an answer every time the Wildcats tried to make a run. The senior finished with 27 points on 10-21 shooting, 5-7 from deep.

Kunaiyi-Akpanah looked as good as ever in her 13th double-double of the year. The junior brought down 14 rebounds, adding 11 points, a block, and a steal along with three assists. Abi Scheid was strong on offense for the Wildcats with 18 points and 5 rebounds. “Once we started missing our shots and they started making them, we just got down on ourselves,” Scheid said.

Ultimately, it was the deep ball that hurt Northwestern. Michigan hit 7 of their 12 attempts, 58 percent, while Northwestern went just 5-20 for a 25 percent average with Lydia Rohde sidelined with injury. Michigan also hit all 17 of their free throws, capitalizing on every opportunity.

“We’re not a great three-pointing team to begin with, that’s not our forte,” McKeown said. McKeown added that the high volume of three-point attempts wasn’t part of the game plan, but were taken when Michigan crashed on Northwestern in the paint, double-teaming Kunaiyi-Akpanah for much of the game.

Next up for Northwestern is a weeklong break before traveling to Indiana and taking on the Hoosiers next Sunday, February 4 at 11 a.m. with Tim Hackett and Fredrick Bugyei on the call for WNUR Sports.

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