For a moment on Thursday evening, it seemed like the Northwestern Wildcats could be in for their second upset of a top five team in as many games, as they grabbed a 44-42 advantage late in the third quarter at Assembly Hall against No. 5 Indiana. Unfortunately for NU fans, the ‘Cats were unable to hold onto the lead for long, as they quickly gave up an 8-0 run to close the period and wound up falling by a margin of 69-58 to the Hoosiers. Here are three takeaways from the loss in Bloomington, which moved the Wildcats to 14-10 overall.
The ‘Cats are battling some fatigue
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but NU looked a bit tired down the stretch of last night’s contest against IU. The battle in Bloomington was the third in seven days for Joe McKeown’s team, and, in case you somehow forgot, Sunday’s win against Michigan took an extra 10 minutes of on-court work. Though the Wildcats looked fresh for much of the game and were able to hang with one of the toughest sides in the nation, the late third quarter run for IU simply broke them down.
By the fourth quarter, the Hoosiers were playing with a good deal more pep in their step, and it showed, as they expanded their lead to as much as 13 before it fell to its final form of 11. Unfortunately for NU, a slew of COVID-induced cancelations earlier in the Big Ten season means that they won’t get much let up until after the Big Ten Tournament. Starting Sunday, they will begin another set of three games in just eight days.
NU’s tendency to foul down low won’t work against elite competition
Throughout the season, the Wildcats have made a bad habit of fouling at and around the rim when they get stuck in tough defensive situations. Against the Hoosiers, NU’s infraction woes were particularly egregious, as the hosts saw 19 opportunities from the charity stripe. Against lesser opponents, the ‘Cats have gotten away with their fouling ways (at least to an extent), but IU made them pay, hitting 17 free throws while missing just two tries from the line. With the return of Mackenzie Holmes, it’s not surprising that Northwestern had some trouble contesting cleanly in the paint, but if the ‘Cats want to make a splash in either the Big Ten or NCAA tournaments, they won’t be able to send opponents to the line as an alternative to defending them.
Lauryn Satterwhite could be a valuable shooting force
Veronica Burton has been lethal all season long, as we know. She had another notable night against Indiana, scoring 20 points while grabbing five rebounds, swiping four steals and dishing out four assists. Jillian Brown has been getting it going with some fervor in recent games and she, too, was effective at Assembly Hall, dropping 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting.
With that in mind, the NU guard that may have stood out the most on Thursday evening was Lauryn Satterwhite, who set a new career-high with four threes on seven attempts from beyond the arc and posted 14 points of her own. Satterwhite’s threes always seemed to come in big moments for the team, which has struggled as a whole from deep throughout the year. If she can continue to make big shots in big moments in these last few regular season games, it could bolster Northwestern’s chances at making it back to March once again.