The Northwestern women’s basketball team did a lot of things right Tuesday.
But Western Kentucky didn’t do itself a lot of favors.
The Lady Toppers (0-2) turned the ball over 21 times and missed 13 of 20 free throws, falling 71-57 at Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston, Ill.
WKU has now fallen to 0-2 in consecutive seasons for the second time in program history.
The Lady Toppers shot 37.7 percent from the field and allowed Northwestern to pull down 14 offensive rebounds in the first half.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats had success distributing the ball, putting four players in double figures scoring and recording 25 assists on 29 baskets.
One of the biggest bright spots for WKU came from two strong performances by freshmen. Guard Alexis Govan earned her first career start, finishing with 11 points, five assists, four rebounds and three assists in a team-high 30 minutes.
Freshman forward Chasity Gooch played 26 minutes off the bench, adding six points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Senior forward LaTeira Owens had 13 points and nine rebounds.
I watched and covered the game from Bowling Green, but spoke with Owens, Govan and coach Mary Taylor Cowles after the game via phone interview. Here’s what they had to say:
Mary Taylor Cowles
On Lady Toppers hurting themselves:
“I don’t want to take anything away from Northwestern, and their size and physicality, but I thought some of their key runs were because of our own mistakes. You have to give credit that they capitalized, but I think we kind of shot ourselves on that.”
“We did that to ourselves. “We’ve got to be able to step up there and knock down shots, those free points that we’ve already worked so hard to get. The frustrating part was that there were things that were in our control.”
On the play of Gooch and Govan:
“They really stepped up and produced. What Chasity, Alexis and the rest of the freshmen have to understand is that those expectations are there every night. I think our freshmen are growing up quickly, and I think they see an opportunity for this team to need them. They want to do it, and playing experience is the best thing for them.”
On what about Northwestern gave WKU problems:
“The physicality was one of the main things. That was one of the things that pushed us back, but we fought for it. We messed up a little on transition too, so I think we’ll keep working on getting back on defense.”
On the play of Govan and Gooch:
“Alexis brought energy and got us hyped, and Chasity did a great job on the boards. That’s going to help us along the way.”
On WKU making 7 of 20 free throws:
“To be honest, I don’t understand what was going on with free throws. We’re going to work on that before the next game. That could have put us in the ballgame late if we’d made some of those.”
On getting her first career start:
“Of course, being a freshman, I was a little nervous, but the team had my back,” Govan said. “Everyone just told me to play ball. It’s just basketball.”
On Northwestern’s 15-3 run in the second half:
“It wasn’t so much what they were doing, it was what we were doing. We stopped playing our game, we let them speed us up. We lost a little bit of focus, but we never stopped fighting.”
On the freshmen’s first road trip:
“Playing on the road – the atmosphere is different. It was just a different. It was a learning experience, but it was fun being in someone else’s gym.”