Looking forward: how NU basketball moves past OSU losses

By Ashley Tumpowsky

Only two hours separated the two games against the Buckeyes on Sunday, one taking place in Columbus and the other in Evanston. Unfortunately for Wildcat fans, the loaded doubleheader resulted in losses for both programs. 

It all started on the defensive end for Chris Collins and the Northwestern men’s basketball team (8-5, 1-3 B1G).

 “Well, that was a real grinded out Big Ten defensive battle…Not today,” Collins joked in his opening statement during the postgame press conference. 

Despite strong 20+ point performances by Boo Buie, Pete Nance and Ty Berry, the Buckeyes won 95-87. The ‘Cats were unable to lock down on defense, giving up 30 more points than they have allowed on average so far this season.  This included failing to match up with Ohio State star E.J. Liddell and allowing him to take over the game with a monstrous 34-point performance.

Unfortunately, for Chris Collins’ veteran squad, the loss marks a three-game Big Ten losing streak, which feels way too familiar after a 20-game streak plagued the team last season. Moving forward, a win in their next game against Maryland is critical for the team if they want to avoid sinking in conference rankings, let alone carry on any hopes of reaching the NCAA Tournament  for only the second time in school history. 

Head coach Joe McKeown and the Northwestern women’s basketball team (10-4, 2-1 B1G) were not anymore successful against their female opponents in red. Coming off a strong win against the No. 22 Iowa Hawkeyes, the ‘Cats were unable to remain undefeated in conference play, losing 74-61 in the contest. Veronica Burton’s 16 points were just not enough to lead the team to a victory, especially with first-year starters Melannie Daley and Caileigh Walsh struggling from the field. 

In addition, for a team who is used to causing turnovers rather than committing them, their 20 turnovers in the matchup proved more than costly. The Buckeyes seemed to control the game right from the tip-off, as Northwestern grabbed its only lead of 10-9 early in the first quarter. Thus, despite a strong effort by the team in the final minutes, Ohio State’s largest lead of 21 points in the fourth quarter proved too much for them to overcome. 

Next for the women’s team is a matchup with Rutgers (7-10, 0-5 B1G) after NU’s original opponent Illinois postponed due to Covid-19 concerns within their program. This game presents yet another great opportunity for this young team to establish themselves as a competitive presence in the conference. 

Luckily, for both the Northwestern men’s and women’s basketball teams, there is still a lot of ball to be played in the remainder of the season. These tough losses, although sometimes hard to endure at the time, can be critical turning points for the rest of the year. Thus, it is important that they use these games as motivation to learn and improve going forward, rather than let it ruin their confidence and team morale.  

The Northwestern men take on Maryland live from College Park at 8:00 p.m. CT. on Wednesday night. The women, on the other hand, will face Rutgers at Welsh-Ryan Arena on Thursday night at 7:00 p.m. CT. Tune in to WNUR 89.3 FM and Mixlr to catch all the action in both games.