Wildcats Steamroll Badgers, End Two-Game Skid
By Eli Berk
Sydney Wood’s 14 points led No. 24 Northwestern (12-5, 10-5 Big Ten) to a 67-54 win over Wisconsin (5-15, 2-15 Big Ten) on Saturday afternoon. The Wildcats’ victory ended a two-game losing streak and prevented them from slipping down the Big Ten standings as the season nears its close.
Along with Wood, Lindsey Pulliam (14 points) and Veronica Burton (13 points) boosted the ‘Cats over a struggling Wisconsin squad. A +15 turnover differential and a dominating effort on the fast break helped Northwestern cruise to an easy win.
The Wildcats grabbed the first four points of the game, then a quick 8-0 Wisconsin run gave the Badgers their first and only lead. Northwestern bounced back strongly, finishing the first quarter on a 13-1 run, holding a ten-point lead. Each starter got on the scoreboard by the end of the first quarter, and Northwestern never looked back.
The ‘Cats cooled off to start the second quarter as the Badgers attempted to close the gap. Overall, this Northwestern team looked like a completely different squad that took the floor in their past two losses, but the abysmal shooting from three-point territory continued. An 0-for-8 start from deep plagued the ‘Cats until Lauryn Satterwhite delivered midway through the second. Northwestern only converted two of its 13 attempts from beyond the arc throughout the game, making only 11 three-pointers out of 50 shots in their last three games.
As the offense struggled through the second quarter, the defense played at an elite level, forcing a total of 26 turnovers. The pressure brought by Northwestern paid off on the other end of the court, and the ‘Cats led 37-20 at the break.
More third-quarter pains continued the Northwestern pattern seen this season, with the Badgers opening on a 7-2 run. Wisconsin fell apart discipline-wise, however, and put the Wildcats in the bonus halfway through the period. The ‘Cats failed to convert on several scoring chances, Veronica Burton in particular. Her first 10 points of the game all came from the charity stripe, but the ‘Cats continued to roll.
Sloppiness ensued as Wisconsin trailed by 14 heading into the final quarter. More quick fouls allowed Northwestern to shoot in the bonus halfway through the quarter again. Veronica Burton finally connected from the floor, hitting a three-pointer with 7:34 to go, and she continued to rack up assists. As the second half remained stagnant, Coach Joe McKeown gave his starters some extra rest, with Burton one assist shy of a double-double. Time quickly ran out, and the ‘Cats ascended to their tenth conference win of the season.
Sydney Hilliard led the way for Wisconsin, putting up 15 points and five assists. The Badgers face another ranked opponent with a matchup against No. 14 Indiana on Wednesday.
Northwestern looks to continue momentum against long-time rival Illinois Thursday in Champaign before returning to Evanston to wrap up the season against No. 9 Maryland.