Northwestern Drops Second Straight to huskers, 71-64

By Brea Lassek

Despite winning the turnover battle 28-4, another second-half scoring slump plagued Northwestern in a 71-64 loss to Nebraska at Welsh-Ryan Arena . The loss marked Northwestern’s second of the season against Nebraska as the Huskers secured their first series sweep of the ‘Cats since joining the Big Ten in 2011. 

Lindsey Pulliam tied for a game-high 22 points while Sydney Wood scored 12 for the ‘Cats. Jordan Hamilton also added 10 points and 10 rebounds, her season-high. However, the Wildcat offense struggled throughout the game, partly due to an uncharacteristic performance from Veronica Burton.

Burton, who averages 17 points per game, didn’t find the basket until 4:36 left in the fourth quarter and finished with 10 points. Although overshadowed by her absence on offense, Burton collected season highs in steals (8) and minutes played (38).

Nebraska ended a four-game losing skid, led by strong performances from Kate Cain, who went a perfect 7-of-7 from the field and scored 22 points, and Isabelle Bourne, who secured a double-double with 21 points and a career-best 17 rebounds.

Nebraska’s size became the difference maker as the Huskers dominated the paint, out-rebounding the ‘Cats 52-33 and forcing Northwestern to attempt more three-pointers. The Wildcats went just 4-of-20 from beyond the arc, two of which came from Burton late in the fourth quarter.

Northwestern led for most of the game, and by as much as 14 points, until the Huskers pulled ahead early in the fourth quarter off an Ashley Scoggin three-pointer. The ‘Cats’ defense set the tone early on, forcing 11 turnovers and holding the Huskers to just eight shot attempts and nine points in the first quarter. The Wildcats led 19-9 at the end of the frame, collecting points from five different players.

The Blizzard defense continued its dominance in the second quarter, holding Nebraska to just 4-of-16 shooting and only allowing four points in the paint. Offensively, Northwestern struggled to establish itself all game but benefitted from strong defensive play, scoring more than half of its first-half points off turnovers. Northwestern led 33-24 going into halftime.

Nebraska came out of the break hot, outscoring the ‘Cats 9-2 in the first five minutes of the third quarter. Northwestern’s full-court press attempted to slow the Huskers’ streak, but the Wildcats’ lack of offensive production and rebounding woes allowed Nebraska to tie the game at 40 with 1:29 left in the third quarter. Hamilton turned a steal into two points to give Northwestern a 44-40 edge at the end of the quarter. 

Nebraska took its second lead of the game early in the fourth quarter thanks to back-to-back three-pointers from Scoggin and Bourne. Northwestern struggled with long scoring droughts throughout the game and failed to score until 6:53 remained in the fourth quarter.

The Huskers’ height advantage continued to wreak havoc on Northwestern as the Wildcats scored just two points in the paint in the fourth quarter. Pulliam and Burton provided a spark late in the game, combining for 18 of NU’s 20 points in the final frame; however, the effort was too little, too late as the Huskers controlled the final minutes with free throws.

The Wildcats will return to Welsh-Ryan Arena this Saturday to face Wisconsin (2-14 in Big Ten play), a team Northwestern routed 80-55 in Medison earlier this season. Catch all the action on WNUR Sports to kick-off our annual Sportsathon fundraiser.