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Northwestern women’s basketball declines WNIT bid

The Wildcats’ season is officially over.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament Maryland v Northwestern Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Northwestern women’s basketball has declined a bid to play in the WNIT after failing to earn a bid to the NCAA Tournament, the team announced yesterday.

The women’s basketball team finished 20-11 in the regular season and won one game in the Big Ten Tournament before falling to Ohio State 99-68. That loss will be the final game in a Northwestern uniform for Nia Coffey, Ashley Deary, Christen Inman, Lauren Douglas, and Allie Tuttle.

Northwestern had hoped for its second trip to the NCAA Tournament in the last four years in 2016-17, but a damaging four-game losing streak in Big Ten season ruined its chances. Despite playing in the 64-team WNIT last season, Northwestern has elected to end its season early.

With Northwestern in exam week for the WNIT and Welsh-Ryan Arena undergoing construction, Northwestern may not have been able to host a WNIT home game.

Northwestern’s best class of seniors in school history will go out on a low note, but their accomplishments will certainly remembered forever. Nia Coffey, a three-time Big Ten First Team player and 2017 All-America candidate, will end her career second on Northwestern’s all-time leading scorers list with 2,287 points. She will not have a chance to play the one game she needed to break the program scoring record. She will also leave with the most rebounds in school history (1,183) and second in blocks (229). If Coffey declares for the WNBA Draft, she is projected to go off the board in the first round.

Her teammate Ashley Deary will graduate as two-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. She was also named to the All-Big Ten Second Team in 2016-17. She will graduate as the all-time Big Ten steals leader (429).

Christen Inman played 121 games for Northwestern, averaging 11.9 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. She shot 46.2 percent from the field over her career. Lauren Douglas played 121 games under head coach Joe McKeown and averaged 10.0 points per game. After coming back for a fifth year in 2016-17 after a back injury, Douglas started 20 games as a senior and averaged 8.7 points per game.

Allie Tuttle played 70 games in her career with 15 starts in 2016-17. She averaged 1.5 points and 6.1 minutes per game over er career.

Northwestern will have an uphill climb in the next few seasons as head coach Joe McKeown tries to replace this remarkable senior class. As for today, the book has been closed on the 2016-17 Northwestern women’s basketball season.