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Rapid Reaction: No. 6 Indiana too much for Northwestern as ‘Cats lose 72-50

Searching for answers after starting 0-5 in Big Ten play.

@IndianaWBB on Twitter.

Welsh-Ryan arena was not as lucky for the ‘Cats on Sunday afternoon as Assembly Hall was earlier in the day, as Northwestern (6-9, 0-5 B1G) fell to No. 6 Indiana (14-1, 4-1) 72-50.

The Hoosiers were led by Mackenzie Holmes’ 24-point and 13-rebound double-double. Sydney Wood paced Northwestern with 10 points and five assists, while Jasmine McWilliams also pitched in 10 points.

The ‘Cats won the opening tip, but instantly turned it over with a travel. A pair of free throws by Sydney Parrish opened up the scoring, and the Hoosiers went on a 7-0 run before Caleigh Walsh got Northwestern on the board. A good look by Paige Mott found Walsh for an easy layup to cut Indiana’s lead to 12-6 midway through the first quarter. The Wildcats struggled to maintain control of the basketball, already having five turnovers in five minutes of play.

Out of the break, both teams were sloppy on each end of the floor. Indiana could not find the bottom of the net, but Northwestern’s offensive struggles continued as both teams were scoreless for nearly two minutes after the timeout. Grace Berger’s jumper put the Hoosiers up 16-8. The ‘Cats would cut into the lead, but a layup by Holmes with five seconds left put IU up 20-12 at the end of the first quarter.

Mott started the second quarter with a block, but Holmes laid it in for the first points of the quarter. Indiana, carried by Holmes, expanded its lead early in the second. Holmes had all eight of IU’s second-quarter points, forcing Northwestern to call a timeout trailing 28-14 with seven minutes left in the quarter.

While the ‘Cats were struggling offensively, Alana Goodchild sank a three-pointer, breaking a four-minute scoreless streak for NU. However, Northwestern’s turnover issues continued throughout the second quarter, adding another five turnovers that turned into 14 Hoosier points. Sydney Wood attempted to kickstart the Northwestern offense with a three, but those were the final points that the Wildcats would score, as they went into the locker room trailing 40-24.

The ‘Cats’ offense could not get it going in the first half, shooting 38.5% from the field and only getting to the line five times. On the defensive side, NU gave up 12 second-chance points while not recording one of its own. Northwestern also did not have a single point in transition and only three points off Indiana’s six turnovers.

Both teams traded blows throughout coming out of the half, with the ‘Cats starting to find the net. With six minutes to play in the third quarter, the Hoosiers looked to pull away from NU, as a three by Sara Scalia put IU up 50-32. But, two straight turnovers by the Hoosiers halted their momentum at the media timeout up 16.

Out of the timeout, Mott found Jasmine McWilliams for an easy layup to cut the IU lead to 14, as momentum looked to turn to the ‘Cats. Indiana went ice-cold from the floor, going scoreless for over three minutes. Northwestern was on an 8-0 run, but Parrish's free throw ended the Indiana drought.

From there, the Wildcats struggled to corral the basketball, allowing IU to have four offensive rebounds for 15 second-chance points in the quarter. McWilliams buried a three to cut the ‘Cats’ deficit to 11, but an and-one by Grace Berger expanded IU’s lead right back to 14. Jillian Brown missed an open look for three to end the third with NU trailing 56-42.

Northwestern turned the ball over on its opening two possession of the final quarter as its offensive struggles continued. A pair of IU free throws brought the lead back to 16, a lead that was insurmountable for the ‘Cats to come back from. A jumper from Parrish put the Hoosiers up 22, their largest lead of the day, as NU had not made a shot from the field for until Courtney Shaw made a layup with about half of the quarter left. Both teams looked to their benches to close the game, as the Wildcats never mounted a comeback, dropping the contest 72-50.

Joe McKeown and the Wildcats return to action Wednesday at No. 16 Iowa. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. CT.