Northwestern women's basketball (15-15, 4-14 B1G) ended its regular season on a sour note Sunday, losing 76-67 at Nebraska (18-11, 9-9 B1G).
The outcome of this game largely represents the Wildcats’ season. Once a top team in the country, NU has now turned into one of the worst teams in the Big Ten.
Back on Jan. 3, NU crushed Nebraska 85-62 at home. The Wildcats were then ranked No. 14 in the country, had a 12-2 record and were poised to reach the NCAA Tournament for a second consecutive year.
But a lot can change in two months.
NU would go on to lose 13 of its next 16 games, working its way out of Tournament contention. For a team that once had so much promise, the ‘Cats have fallen off immensely.
Compared to the way NU eviscerated Nebraska back in January, it looked like a different team was playing on Sunday. Two months ago, the Wildcats outrebounded Nebraska 57-46, while also racking up 22 assists compared to Nebraska’s 15. But on Sunday, Nebraska had 54 rebounds compared to NU’s dismal 32, while also recording 19 assists to NU’s seven.
Junior guard Ashley Deary also had one of her worst games this season, recording just six points, four assists and two steals. In the first meeting, Deary had one of her best games of the season, notching 15 points, eight steals, eight assists and six rebounds.
There were few positives on Sunday besides junior guard Christen Inman. The prolific scorer recorded 27 points on 10-for-19 shooting, providing the bulk of the scoring for the Wildcats. Junior Nia Coffey also scored 19 points and pulled in six rebounds.
Unfortunately, it was not enough to save the 'Cats from their slide. The comparison of these two games against Nebraska mark two distinct points in the Wildcats’ season, one of optimism and confidence, and the other of frustration and defeat.
The ‘Cats will roll into the Big Ten Tournament hoping to return to their old ways, trying to reignite the once-inspiring spark that has now all but faded. 12th-seed NU will face 13th-seed Wisconsin in the opening matchup at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday.