Spartans Spoil Senior Day

Northwestern's struggles continued on Sunday, as it fell to Michigan State, 76-57, on Senior Day at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

It may have been senior day at Welsh-Ryan, but it was the juniors who led the team. Ultimately, though, the Northwestern women's basketball team was unsuccessful in its attempt to thwart Michigan State, falling 76-57 in the team's final game of the season.

Junior forward Dannielle Diamant led the ‘Cats with 16 points and eight rebounds. Forward Kendall Hackney and freshman Morgan Jones also both had double-digit points.

The final game left the Wildcats with a 14-15 record on the year, which comes as a bit of a disappointment after a 10-3 non-conference start for the team opened up possibilities of a strong season and good finish in the Big Ten.

"I was hoping we'd end up with a winning record in the regular season. We were right there the last couple weeks," head coach Joe McKeown said. "It's just been a tough thing to go through, but out players, you saw the fight in them today."

The game stayed close throughout the first half and the score stayed at 33-29 at the break. But the Spartans opened up the second half with a 21-5 run over the first eight minutes.

"Transition defense on our part allowed them to score so much in the second half, especially when they went on that run," Diamant said.

NU showed offensive struggles, as well. Diamant, Hackney and Jones took nearly 80 percent of the team's shots and the team was 37 percent from the field. They also turned the ball over 13 times.

"You know there's good turnovers and bad turnovers," McKeown said. "Dead-ball turnovers you can get back on defense. The ones we had they converted. We had a hard time with the pace of being able to get back on defense and then recorver and find people."

The ‘Cats didn't quit, and went on a run of their own in the second half to cut the lead to nine with four minutes remaining. A few key threes by the Spartans ended any chance of a comeback.

"Something we've been preaching is just playing the full forty minutes," said senior forward Allison Mocchi. "We turned a 20-point deficit into what? Ten."

The teams seniors — Mocchi, guard Tailor Jones and forward Brittany Orban, who went out earlier in the season with a knee injury — were honored beforehand as they took mid-court with members of their families.

While the regular season is over, the ‘Cats look ahead to the Big Ten Tournament, whe McKeown hopes the team can have an impact, given how competitive they have been in many of their games so far.

"I think the Big Ten Tournament for us, when you look at the league, is wide open, in that everybody can beat everybody on a given night," McKeown said. "For us, we got nothing to lose. You kind of throw out a lot of the traditional things that we try to do all year and just play. I think that will be our mindset going in."

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