By Eli Karp
Northwestern lost to No. 18 Marquette, 76-57, and dropped its third straight game Sunday afternoon.
Marquette led from the start and never trailed. The Golden Eagles, led by Aliza Blockton and her game-high 21 points, used a 14-0 run to close the first quarter, leading 25-9.
The Wildcats refused to go away quickly, though, turning up their defensive intensity and hitting more shots. They dominated the second quarter, outscoring Marquette 19-7 and trailing just 32-28 at the half.
However, Northwestern was unable to keep that momentum going after knotting the score at 34 early in the third quarter. Turnovers, poor shooting and struggling to box out defensively doomed the Wildcats. Northwestern shot a mere 34 percent from the field, and sophomore star Lindsey Pulliam had an off game, scoring 15 points on 5-19 shooting.
Although Northwestern had many chances to make it tight in the second half, the Wildcats were simply outplayed and outmatched by Marquette’s depth. Nearly every time Northwestern gained some momentum, Marquette would have the answer, never letting its lead dip below seven in the second half.
Marquette, ranked 18th in the country, did not play its best game. The Golden Eagles shot 43 percent from the field and just 21 percent from three to go along with 15 turnovers. Two starters, Natisha Hiedeman and Amani Wilborn, fouled out with about three minutes left in the game when they led by 11.
NU’s starting lineup featured more size than Marquette’s did, and Pallas Kunayi-Akpanah grabbed a game-high 15 rebounds. But the Golden Eagles still outscored the Wildcats 48-20 in the paint, including a 21-6 advantage on fast breaks. Northwestern Head Coach Joe McKeown said he attributed Marquette’s success in the paint to its quickness in transition.
Despite the loss, McKeown reiterated he really likes his young team and that the finals week break comes at a good time for his young, injured group.
Northwestern’s next game is against Chicago State on December 17.