Northwestern Collapses in Fourth Quarter Against Indiana
By Ally Navarete
In the first three quarters against Indiana Sunday, Northwestern women’s basketball played some of its best basketball of the season. But as Indiana caught fire in the fourth quarter, the ‘Cats broke down, and suddenly the game was out of reach.
The ‘Cats ultimately fell to Indiana 74-61, but it shouldn’t have ended that way. Throughout the first half, the ‘Cats were narrowly, but consistently, on top. The stanza ended with Northwestern up by three, 36-33.
The Wildcats came out hot in the third quarter. They extended their lead to double digits about halfway through, going up 49-36 with about five minutes left in the third. But within the first three minutes of the fourth quarter, things started to fall apart. Indiana outscored them 26-7 in the final frame to ultimately take the win.
Based on the game the ‘Cats were playing in the first 30 minutes, a Northwestern win seemed almost guaranteed. Both Veronica Burton and Lindsey Pulliam were firing on all cylinders for the second-straight game — Burton finished with 17 points and five rebounds; Pulliam had 15 points and nine rebounds.
And the team wasn’t just relying on the efforts of these two. Sydney Wood and Jordan Hamilton came in hot, contributing 12 and 13 points, respectively. And even as an injured Courtney Shaw didn’t play, her replacement, first-year Paige Mott, had seven rebounds in her second-career start.
Even without Shaw to control the paint on defense, the ‘Cats looked like they had everything under control. But in the final minutes, Indiana found its rhythm, downing shot after shot while the ‘Cats struggled to score. After what Coach Joe McKeown deemed “defensive breakdowns” in the fourth quarter, the ‘Cats have to regroup if they want to climb back to the top of the Big Ten.
Heading into the rest of the season, the schedule doesn’t get any easier. The ‘Cats will have to face No. 17 Ohio State twice, as well as a rematch against Nebraska, whom they narrowly lost to a few weeks ago. And, to finish off the regular season, they’ll take on No. 7 Maryland and No. 11 Michigan.
This loss comes at a crucial time for this team. If the ‘Cats are going to remain a competitor for the top of this talented conference, they’ll have to fight hard.
“There’s a lot of really good teams in our league, so you gotta do all the little things right,” McKeown said. “We’ll address it. Our kids are tough.”