A deadly mixture of cold shooting and defensive struggles doomed Northwestern in its final non-conference game. Toledo knocked off Northwestern, 67-50, at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
The Wildcats shot just 37.3 percent from the field. Northwestern’s two leading scorers, Morgan Jones and Kendall Hackney, combined to hit just 7 of 27 from the field.
Northwestern suffered after losing center Danielle Diamant to an apparent ankle injury, which gave Toledo an advantage inside. Toledo outrebounded the Wildcats, 44-29. Diamant left the bench on crutches after the game. There is no word to the extent of her injury.
Toledo could not miss in the second half, shooting 61.5 percent from the field, while killing any Northwestern comeback attempt.
“They just made a lot of shots and we broke down defensively at the wrong time,” said NU head coach Joe McKeown. “I thought we made a good push there but they came back. Losing Danielle (Diamant) there to injury hurt. It kind of negated our inside advantage we thought we had. Defensively, there’s no excuse for the mistakes that we made.”
Toledo led throughout the entire second half, but took control with under six minutes remaining. Northwestern appeared to be clawing back, cutting the Rockets’ lead to four. Toledo guard Courtney Ingersoll drove to the hoop for a layup, and drew a blocking foul on Karly Roser.
Northwestern’s Kendall Hackney would miss a three-pointer, then Inma Zanoguera would drill a three, giving Toledo a ten-point lead. Any comeback hopes the Wildcats may have had were crushed.
“We broke down on defense, gave up an open three, and they made us pay,” said McKeown. “They’re a good team that’s going to be in the race for the championship of the MAC. They were there last year, won the NIT.”
The Wildcats return to action on Friday evening, when they open up Big Ten play in Iowa City against the Hawkeyes. Tipoff for that game is set for 6 p.m.
In the meantime, Coach McKeown hopes his Wildcats learn from their mistakes in Tuesday’s game, and move on.
“You certainly learn. You look at where you made mistakes, where they happened, and make sure you don’t make those mistakes again. The rest of it, you kind of put it behind you.”