Veronica Burton soars in Northwestern’s road win over Clemson

By Ally Navarrete

Veronica Burton paved the way for Northwestern with a career-high 32 points, as the ‘Cats snapped their two-game losing streak, taking down Clemson 72-61 in the ACC/B1G Challenge. 

Northwestern got off to a slow start on both sides of the ball. The Blizzard defense struggled early against the Tigers, who successfully converted some early shots. While Clemson shot 56% from the field in the first quarter, NU sat at just about 30%. The Tigers opened up a 22-16 lead.

The ‘Cats began to narrow the scoring gap in the second quarter. After putting up six points in the first, Burton started to heat up with a few of her signature layups. The NU first-years also began to shine — a good three-pointer from Caileigh Walsh and a pull-up jumper from Melannie Daley helped the ‘Cats start to rebound from the first quarter, and they were only down 37-30 at the half.

The Wildcat offense looked poised to make a comeback going into the second half. The ‘Cats began shooting better from the field, improving from that 30% in the first quarter to 58% in the third. Meanwhile, Clemson regressed from 56% in the first to just 29% in the third.

After trailing for most of the game, the ‘Cats recovered from what was once a 13-point deficit. They outscored Clemson 17-11 in the third quarter, and a three from Jillian Brown tied the game at 45 with about two and a half minutes remaining in the period. The fourth began with the Tigers leading 48-47.

Last season, the Wildcats struggled with late-game collapses, but last night couldn’t have been more different. With just over a minute into the final quarter, Walsh drained a three to put the ‘Cats up 53-50. 

The game continued to go back-and-forth until about the five-minute mark when Clemson’s Amari Robinson fouled Walsh. After Walsh made both of her free throws, the ‘Cats started to pull away. 

Burton’s success from beyond the arc and the charity stripe widened the scoring gap in the remainder of the fourth, and the ‘Cats ultimately won 72-61.

In her career-best performance on offense, Burton had 32 points, including 8 of 13 from the field and 14 of 15 from the free-throw line. First-years Walsh, Brown and Daley were the next three top scorers for the ‘Cats. Walsh put up 10, and Brown and Daley both had eight. Courtney Shaw led the team in rebounds with 10. 

This game was a much-needed non-conference win for Northwestern after the team dropped its last two contests to Pitt and Texas A&M at the Paradise Jam over Thanksgiving break. On Sunday, the ‘Cats will be back at Welsh-Ryan to open Big Ten play against Wisconsin. 

Our very own Eric Rynston-Lobel and Logan Schiciano will have the call for you, with tip-off scheduled for 2 p.m. CT.