By Nicholas Guiang
It was an atypical night for Northwestern Women’s Basketball on Thursday, as they failed to break 50 points in their 49-52 loss against Pittsburgh in their ACC-B1G Challenge matchup.
The Wildcats struggled to find any rhythm on offense, as they shot less than 27 percent from the field and only 14 percent from three-point range. Give Pittsburgh credit for their work defensively in this game, as they completely disrupted a Northwestern team that averaged 75 points per game and 41 percent shooting heading into the night.
“We gotta score the basketball. It’s pretty simple,” said coach Joe McKeown after the loss.
Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah, however, was an exception for the Wildcats, posting a double-double and leading the team with 16 points and 10 rebounds. The senior played a total of 34 minutes but was forced to sit the last minute of the game after fouling out.
Kunaiyi-Akpanah was not the only big loss on the night for Northwestern, as Sydney Wood was forced to leave the game with six minutes left to play in the third quarter after being hit in the face during an offensive possession. Other key players that were ruled out for the night included Abi Scheid and Veronica Burton, both top six in points per game for Northwestern, so it is safe to say that the Wildcats were left crippled on the offensive end down the stretch.
But despite the struggle to get to the basket against Pittsburgh’s 2-3 defense, Coach McKeown was able to find some positives.
“When you hold a team to 52 points at home, you feel pretty good about your defensive effort,” he said.
Northwestern held Pittsburgh to only a 35 percent field goal percentage and forced a season-high 18 turnovers on the night. The Wildcats’ defense was strong, but with key players missing throughout the game, their offensive struggles proved too much to overcome.
Heading into the next week, Northwestern will face off against two currently ranked teams: No. 16 DePaul on December 5 and No. 22 Marquette on December 9. The Wildcats have a lot to improve on if they want to take down these two high-scoring powerhouses.
“We [have] got to regroup a little bit, try to get healthy this weekend and be ready to play Wednesday,” Coach McKeown said.