Coming off of a huge win over Indiana in Assembly Hall on Thursday, Northwestern women’s basketball (15-2, 5-1 Big Ten) will try to keep their first place status intact against conference bottom-feeders Penn State (7-10, 1-5) back home in Evanston this afternoon.
Despite their current struggles, Wildcat head coach Joe McKeown has had his fair share of struggles against the historically quite respectable Nittany Lions. McKeown is 1-22 in his career (and 1-13 in his Northwestern tenure) against Penn State, finally breaking through for the first time last season.
This year’s Nittany Lions, though, may be the worst iteration in program history. Outside of a shocking win over Michigan State, head coach Carolyn Klieger’s squad has largely looked lost thus far in Big Ten play, falling to fellow last place denizens Minnesota and Wisconsin while getting blown out by Michigan and, slightly encouragingly, suffering a close loss to Rutgers on Thursday.
Kamaria McDaniel leads the way for Penn State. The high-volume shooter averages 191 points per game, good for second in the Big Ten. The only other player who scores in double figures is guard Siyeh Frazier, who averages 13.5 points and six rebounds per contest.
The biggest issue for the Nittany Lions so far this season has been turnovers. Every single member of the team who has recorded a stat in either category has an assist-to-turnover ratio below 1, and the team’s number is a sickly 0.56. Penn State averages more than 19 turnovers per contest, worst in the Big Ten by plenty. Unfortunately for them, Northwestern forces nearly 19 turnovers of their own each game, good for second in the conference.
PSU has also struggled mightily on the defensive end, allowing a tick over 70 points per game. Lindsey Pulliam, who had 22 points in last year’s win over the Nittany Lions, will seek to lead an attack that has looked increasingly balanced in the midst of her recent struggles. Abi Scheid, Abbie Wolf, and Veronica Burton have all shown the ability to carry the scoring load over the last three games for a Northwestern team that may need one of them to do so once again.
Without further ado, here’s how you can follow today’s action:
Location: Welsh-Ryan Arena (Evanston, Illinois)
Tipoff: 2:00 p.m. CT
Radio: WNUR Sports 89.3 FM (online at WNURSports.com)
Online streaming: BTNPlus.com
Prediction: Northwestern 76, Penn State 57 per warrennolan.com