Northwestern women's basketball's had been riding high recently. A road win over a ranked Michigan State squad and a blowout of Wisconsin had NU at 2-0 in the Big Ten and 12-1 overall, and had vaulted the Wildcats into the USA Today top 25. But Sunday in Columbus, Ohio State brought Joe McKeown's team back down to earth.
The game was closer than the 73-64 score would suggest, but the Buckeyes forced 20 Northwestern turnovers and held NU to 4-23 shooting from beyond the arc en route to victory. Kelsey Mitchell, the nation's second-leading scorer, spurred the Buckeyes with 23 points. Maggie Lyon had 17 to lead Northwestern.
The Wildcats got off to a poor start, and they never quite were able to recover. Eight turnovers in the first eight minutes allowed the Buckeyes to get out to an early 14-4 lead. Northwestern twice cut the lead to 1 in the second half, but just barely couldn't get over the hump. NU never led the entire game.
Nia Coffey tried to bring the Wildcats back in the second half, notching a double-double, but fouled out on a questionable call with 4:14 to play. Immediately following the disqualification, McKeown picked up a technical. From then on, the result was all but decided.
Northwestern struggled to find a rhythm as Ohio State moved in and out of a suffocating zone defense, especially in the first half. Then after the break, when the Wildcats finally found an answer offensively, they couldn't string together enough stops.
Northwestern will likely drop back out of the top 25, but will get a week off to regroup. A chance to get back to winning ways will present itself next Sunday when Michigan State, whom the Wildcats already beat in December, comes to Evanston.