‘Cats Fall 70-54 at Home to Rutgers

By Eli Berk

Northwestern’s three-game win streak came to an unceremonious close Thursday afternoon with a 70-54 loss to Rutgers at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

In only its second game back after a month of inactivity due to a COVID-19 pause, Rutgers (7-3, 3-3 Big Ten) lit up the scoreboard. Forward Tekia Mack led the charge, picking up a double-double on 16 points and 13 rebounds.

Veronica Burton and Lindsey Pulliam struggled to generate any offense as Northwestern (11-4, 9-4 Big Ten) had to rely on the other three members of their starting lineup. Jordan Hamilton, who led the team with 13 points, combined with guard Sydney Wood and first-year big Paige Mott for 37 of Northwestern’s 54 points. Mott combatted the much-larger Rutgers offense with a pair of blocks and steals.

Both teams fired out of the gate, with Hamilton hitting three straight three-point shots and Rutgers big Tyia Singleton dominating the paint. However, Northwestern ultimately couldn’t stop Rutgers’ quick ball movement and struggled with mismatches on the baseline.

The second quarter became a defensive showdown, with both teams enduring prolonged scoring droughts. Twenty-five combined points throughout the second quarter left the teams deadlocked at 28 going into the break.

Coming out of halftime, both offenses found their ways again as the game began to shift into a “last-possession-wins” mentality. However, as in the second quarter, the final stretch was much slower, and a Rutgers bucket immediately counteracted any Northwestern effort to score. 

The Scarlet Knights’ defense also proved to be too much to the prolific Wildcat offense, holding the ‘Cats to 19-of-50 from the floor and 54 points. Four out of five Rutgers starters reached double digits in scoring, including Tekia Mack’s first double-double of the season. Rutgers continues its road trip as the Scarlet Knights visit Purdue on Sunday afternoon.

The Wildcats look to regroup as they travel to Columbus to face Ohio State for the second time in two weeks. Northwestern’s last game against the Buckeyes resulted in a 69-57 win Evanston. All action for the game can be found live on WNUR Sports.