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Rapid Reaction: Northwestern stalls late, falls 69-58 to No. 5 Indiana

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It was very close until it wasn’t.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — The ‘Cats got close, but couldn’t hang on.

Northwestern (14-10, 6-7 B1G) fought valiantly on the road against No. 5 Indiana (19-4, 11-2), grabbing a lead in the third quarter before giving up a big fourth quarter run and losing 69-58.

Veronica Burton posted another stellar outing for the Wildcats, finishing with 20 points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals. Jillian Brown and Lauryn Satterwhite each finished with 14 points as well. For Indiana, it was the Aleksa Gulbe show. The senior ended the game with 20 points and 12 rebounds while shooting an efficient 7-for-12 from the field. Nicole Cardano-Hillary added 17 points of her own while sinking three threes.

The Wildcats got the scoring going with a layup from Brown in the first minute of action. Northwestern as a whole got off to a quick start, hitting three of its first five shots to go up 6-2 early. However, a couple good cuts to the basket from Indiana tied the game at six. By the first media timeout, the ‘Cats were shooting 4-for-6 from the field, but still trailed 11-9.

After the first break from the action, both teams went cold for a bit. MacKenzie Holmes got her first two points following her lengthy absence at the free throw line before Melannie Daley sliced to the basket for a layup. The Hoosiers then went on a three-minute scoring drought before Holmes added another layup to make the score 16-11. The ‘Cats sunk one more basket before the end of the quarter before Ali Patberg banked in a shot just before the buzzer to give IU a 18-13 lead through 10.

To begin the second quarter, Satterwhite and Cardano-Hillary traded threes. After Brown traveled, the Hoosiers found an open Cardano-Hillary again for another three, forcing a timeout from Joe McKeown. From there, the teams traded buckets before the Wildcats managed to go on a 6-0 run in 15 seconds to bring the game within one point.

Points were hard to come by in the final minutes of the first half. Both teams went on extensive droughts, with the ‘Cats shooting 1-for-8 — with the lone make coming on another Satterwhite three — to close the first half and Indiana failing to make a field goal in the final five minutes of play. After the first 20 minutes, the Hoosiers led 32-28. Satterwhite led the Wildcats with nine points while Cardano-Hillary led IU with eight points of her own.

As the second half got going, Gulbe nailed a jumper for Indiana before Paige Mott sunk a layup to keep the gap four points wide. After those two baskets, the ‘Cats slowly began to claw their way back, going on a 5-0 run due to a three-minute scoring drought from the Hoosiers. Indiana snapped that cold stretch with a jumper from Cardano-Hillary, which made the score 40-37.

Over the final four minutes of the third quarter, both sides went cold once again. The ‘Cats managed to break a three-minute drought of their own with a Satterwhite three — her fourth of the game, which set a new career high. Two plays later, NU tied the game at 42 off of a Burton layup, and on their next possession, the Wildcats took the lead thanks to another Burton bucket. Indiana wouldn’t stay quiet, however, as Gulbe managed to nail a three while being fouled and successfully converted the four-point play. The Hoosiers finished the third quarter shooting on a 8-0 run to expand their lead to 50-44.

To begin the fourth quarter, Brown made a circus shot to cut Indiana’s lead to four, but Gulbe quickly responded with a jumper of her own. A few plays later, Courtney Shaw scored her first points of the game on a layup, making it a mere two-point deficit for NU. The Hoosiers kept the pressure on though, converting two quick buckets — one of which was an and-one — to extend their lead to seven points.

As the minutes ticked down, Shaw picked up her fourth foul of the game, which sent her to the bench. A couple plays later, a layup from Cardano-Hillary pushed Indiana’s lead to 10 points. Northwestern proceeded to take timeout with five minutes to go.

After the timeout, the Wildcats remained out of it. A Caileigh Walsh layup got the deficit to eight points, but Cardano-Hillary continued to kill the ‘Cats from deep, sinking her third three of the game to extend Indiana’s lead to 11. The Hoosiers’ lead oscillated between nine and 11 points as the final minutes wound down, and Indiana ultimately walked away with a 69-58 victory.

The Wildcats are back in action on Sunday when they travel down to Urbana-Champaign to take on Illinois at 4 p.m. CT.