Evanston, Ill. - The Indiana women's basketball team dropped a defensive struggle, 48-36 against Northwestern on Thursday evening. The Hoosiers are now 10-13 overall and 3-9 in the conference, while the Wildcats move to 8-15 overall and 1-11 in league play.
"This is a bad loss," said Indiana head coach Kathi Bennett. "We could not get anything going. You cannot have a draught like that (one field goal in 15:39) and expect to beat anybody."
IU's stifling defense held the Wildcats scoreless for the first 6:23 of the game as the Hoosiers built a 9-0 lead. Freshman Sarah McKay started quickly with a pair of free throws and a layup, accounting for four of the team's first nine points.
After its slow start, Northwestern rattled off a 13-4 run to even the contest at 13-13 before sophomore Cyndi Valentin nailed a three-pointer to put IU back on top, 16-13.
Following a Wildcat three, Valentin connected on her third trey of the half, sparking a 7-0 Hoosier rally in the final 5:06 of the first half. Freshman Jamey Champan added a hook shot, and junior Jenny DeMuth contributed a pair of free throws during the run, giving Indiana a 23-16 halftime lead.
In the half, Valentin led all scorers with nine points with sophomore Angela Hawkins adding six points and eight rebounds. Defensively, the Hoosiers held NU to 32.0% (7-22) from the floor and outrebounded the Wildcats, 23-13. Northwestern's 16 points were the second-lowest output a Hoosier defense has allowed in a first half this season (Wisconsin, 13).
IU's pressure gave the Wildcats all they could handle early in the second half. NU went scoreless the first 4:28 of the half when Alex Mueller hit two free throws to end a 9:34 overall scoreless draught. Mueller ended a 10:07 period for Northwestern without a field goal by draining a three-pointer to trim the Hoosier lead to 23-18.
Hawkins netted the first Indiana bucket of the half at the 14:37 mark to build the lead back to four points at 25-21, but the Wildcats scored the game's next five points to take their first lead of the game at 26-25 with 12:30 left.
The Hoosiers' offensive struggles continued throughout the second frame and Northwestern capitalized. IU did not score its second basket until a DeMuth layup with 8:27 remaining, breaking a draught where Indiana scored one field goal in a 15:29 stretch.
However, NU took its largest lead of the game at 40-29 with 4:37 left and never looked back posting the 48-36 victory.
Indiana's 36 points were the lowest points scored by a Hoosier team since a 62-36 loss to Pittsburgh in 1978.
IU shot 16.7% (4-24) in the second half and 23.1% (12-52) overall in the game, while Northwestern connected on 33.3% (15-45) for the game.
Valentin finished with a game-high 15 points and Hawkins recorded eight points and 13 rebounds, her second straight game with 10-plus boards (15 against Illinois). McKay ended the night with five points, five rebounds, three blocks and two steals. DeMuth connected on 1-of-14 from the floor, scoring six points.
Mueller closed the evening with 14 points, including four three-pointers in the second frame for the Wildcats. Defensively, Indiana held Sarah Kwasinski to four points on 1-of-10 shooting from the floor.
Up next, the Hoosiers return to Assembly Hall for a battle against the Iowa Hawkeyes on Sunday, Feb. 15 at 2 p.m. The game will be broadcast live over the Indiana Women's Basketball Radio Network with Jeremy Gray calling all the action.