This season is getting harder and harder to bear.
Despite 21 points for Nia Coffey and an impressive all-around night for Ashley Deary, Northwestern (17-9, 6-7 B1G) whiffed at a chance to get back into any discussion of the NCAA Tournament bubble with a 19-point loss to Iowa (16-10, 7-6 B1G) Thursday night in Iowa City. With the loss, Northwestern fell to ninth in the conference.
It was a familiar story for Northwestern, as the Wildcats fell victim to a 15-4 Iowa run over the first five minutes of play. Once again, Northwestern’s defense played well early, but broke down as the offense couldn’t keep up the pace. Northwestern made it a one possession game off a Deary three to start the second quarter, but a crushing 16-9 run for Iowa to close out the half extended the Hawkeyes’ lead to double-digits.
In a repeat of the previous game, the third quarter saw Nia Coffey desperately attempt to rally her team. She scored 11 points in the third and even cut the lead to 45-39 on a free throw with 6:42 remaining, but Northwestern’s offensive momentum fell short and Iowa was back up 18 just four minutes later. This last Northwestern defensive capitulation was the difference, and Iowa cruised to a comfortable home win in the fourth.
Northwestern’s NCAA Tournament hopes have all but dropped off the map barring a miracle run in the Big Ten Tournament. Northwestern is 17-9 and has lost four consecutive games. Northwestern does have two easier contests at home for Rutgers and Illinois, but even with 19 wins, Northwestern will need to beat Purdue on the road and win at least three games in the Big Ten Tournament. Given how the team is currently playing, that seems extremely unlikely.
Northwestern’s next game is against Illinois at Welsh-Ryan Arena on February 19.