Despite holding a four-point leading heading into the fourth quarter, Northwestern came up short against No. 7 Ohio State, losing 76-73. Northwestern played well against the Buckeyes, with Nia Coffey and Christen Inman leading the team with 23 and 18 points, respectively. However, Kelsey Mitchell bounced back from a poor first half to lead Ohio State to victory with 27 points.
Northwestern took the lead in the first quarter and lead for most of the game. Both teams came out flat and played sloppily, but Northwestern’s three-point shooting allowed the Wildcats to pull slightly ahead. Ohio State shot poorly in the first half and committed several turnovers, but Northwestern was unable to capitalize and build a large lead like it did in the first meeting between the two teams. Northwestern’s defense held strong against Ohio State’s high-powered offense in the first half, but the Wildcats once again faltered late in the game.
In the third quarter, Northwestern stretched the lead to 9 points after an Ashley Deary steal gave Christen Inman an easy layup. However, Northwestern once again failed to close out the game defensively in the fourth quarter, as Kelsey Mitchell scored 16 points in the fourth quarter alone to give Ohio State the lead. The lead changed hands five times in the fourth quarter, but 6 unanswered points just after the two-minute mark sealed the game for Ohio State. Northwestern was unable to mount a comeback and has now lost four consecutive games.
Northwestern shot better from three-point range than it had in weeks. However, this was counteracted by Northwestern’s continuing struggles at the line. In what ultimately turned out to be a huge factor, the Wildcats shot 66.7 percent from the free throw line while Ohio State shot 78.9 percent. Northwestern was able to force turnovers until the end of the game, but the Wildcats also had 17 turnovers themselves and only won the turnover margin by 1. Northwestern will be hoping to rebound from another close loss when it faces Iowa on Sunday.
Northwestern misses huge opportunity to become relevant again
Needless to say, if Northwestern had won this game, its postseason hopes would have been greatly enhanced. Beating Ohio State on the road might have overcome the disappointing losses that preceded this game, but Northwestern was unable to convert the opportunity. If Northwestern has any shot at making the NCAA Tournament, another victory against an top-tier RPI opponent is absolutely necessary, and Northwestern missed a golden chance to get back in the conversation. Northwestern matches up better with this Ohio State team than a team like Maryland, and another close defeat has dampened hopes of making the Tournament.
Northwestern’s fourth quarter struggles continue
Against Indiana, Northwestern gave up 33 points in the fourth quarter. It was a similar story today as Northwestern’s previously resilient defense just couldn’t make key stops at the end of the game. Ashley Deary and Maggie Lyon each had two costly turnovers that resulted in crucial Ohio State points. This is fourth game that Northwestern has taken a lead in the fourth quarter and lost this season.
Northwestern wins the rebounding battle thanks to PKA
As was the case in the previous meeting between these two teams, Northwestern won the battle on the glass behind the effort of Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah. In the two games against Ohio State, Kunaiyi-Akpanah has pulled down 30 rebounds and contributed 20 points on offense. For some reason, Ohio State was just incapable of stopping Kunaiyi-Akpanah in the glass in both games. However, it was not enough for Northwestern to emerge victorious.