Northwestern tried its hardest to choke away a seemingly insurmountable late lead, but ultimately it was Milwaukee who choked last on Sunday afternoon as the Wildcats somehow escaped with a much-needed 65-63 victory.
Trailing 63-55 with under a minute to play, Milwaukee came to life. The Panthers knocked down a three to pull within five, rebounded a Nia Coffey miss, hit another three and tied the game on a layup after stealing the ensuing inbounds pass. It was a complete and utter defensive implosion by Northwestern, but there was still time.
Coffey drew a foul with 8 seconds remaining and hit both free throws. On the other end, it was Milwaukee’s turn to blow it. Jenny Lindner made a nice move off the dribble to get to the rim, but somehow missed a wide open layup. The Panthers grabbed the offensive rebound but also missed an easy putback as time expired.
Northwestern moves to 8-1 on the season, although it wasn’t pretty. The Wildcats shot just 35 percent from the floor, highlighted by a 1-of-17 performance from three-point range. The big three, seniors Nia Coffey, Ashley Deary and Christen Inman, combined for 45 points but needed 41 shots and 22 free throw attempts to do it.
However, Milwaukee wasn’t any better. The Panthers, who fall to 7-2, shot just 36 percent from the floor and 22 percent from deep. The big difference in the game was that Milwaukee turned the ball over 15 times to Northwestern’s 8.
Neither team gained much separation before the game’s final minutes. It was a back-and-forth, closely contested game between two WNIT teams from a year ago. The Wildcats trailed by a point after the first quarter and led by a point after the second and third quarters.
- The importance of Northwestern grabbing another non-conference win against a solid team, despite forgetting how to shoot the ball, can’t be overstated. The Wildcats are now 8-1 with impressive wins over Florida and Virginia and their one loss came without Coffey against a ranked DePaul team.
- Joe McKeown got key contributions from two of his new players, freshman Abi Scheid and transfer Oceana Hamilton. The duo combined for 12 points and 9 rebounds in secondary roles and were the only Northwestern players to make over half of their shots.
- The long-range struggles for Northwestern continue to be extremely concerning. Shooting 6 percent from deep can’t happen in Big Ten games, but the Wildcats just don’t seem to have very many players who can make those shots.