The Northwestern Wildcats saw their 2017-18 season come to an end on Thursday with a 55-45 loss to the Iowa Hawkeyes in the second round of the Women’s Big Ten Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
Northwestern dug itself a hole early on after failing to convert on a field goal in the first quarter and falling behind 22-1. However, the Wildcats battled back, at one point trimming the deficit to five in the fourth quarter.
Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah capped off an impressive junior year campaign by recording 17 rebounds to go along with six points. Lindsey Pulliam finished with a game-high 17 points on 7-of-18 shooting. Jordan Hamilton totaled nine points along with five assists.
The Wildcats spent most of their energy containing Big Ten Player of the Year Megan Gustafson throughout much of the game, and she finished with just 12 points points and nine rebounds. Makenzie Meyer led the Hawkeyes with 13 points.
As a team, Northwestern struggled from the field, converting on 17 of 62 looks from the field, while Iowa shot 42.9-percent (21-of-49).
After a nightmare first quarter performance, Northwestern began to heat up in the second quarter, outscoring Iowa 19-9 and cutting the deficit to just 11 heading into halftime. The ’Cats closed the half on a 13-3 run while holding the Hawkeyes without a field goal for the final five minutes of the second quarter.
Both teams struggled offensively to start the second half, but Northwestern came alive in the fourth quarter. A successful three-point play by Lindsey Pulliam cut the Iowa lead to single digits, and back-to-back midrange jumpers by Pulliam minutes later cut the lead to five with 4:03 left in the game.
However that was as close as Northwestern was able to come, as Iowa responded with a back-breaking three pointer from Alexis Sevillian. After a few more turnovers, Northwestern was out of reach and the Hawkeyes closed out the game.
The Wildcats finished their season with a 12-20 record, but have a lot to look forward to ahead of next fall. They return all players but Lydia Rohde and Oceana Hamilton they and will add redshirt-freshman-to-be Lauryn Satterwhite and a strong recruiting class. The team will also return from Evanston Township High School back to a newly renovated Welsh-Ryan Arena.