NU earns first Big Ten win vs Wisconsin 61-49

By Ashley Tumpowsky

Led by yet another strong performance from Veronica Burton, the Northwestern Women’s basketball team charged towards a commanding win in their first Big Ten matchup of the season, defeating the Wisconsin Badgers 61-49 on Sunday.

Caileigh Walsh gave the ‘Cats a spark right off the tip.The 6’ 3” first-year from Sparta, New Jersey, scored 11 of her 14 points in the first quarter and helped to jump start the Wildcat offense to a 10-point lead. Not only did she use her size to get easy buckets down low, she also used her shooting range to nail a three-point shot, showing the versatility Joe McKeown raved about prior to the season. 

In the second quarter, other Wildcats began to get in on the action. Jasmine McWilliams and Courtney Shaw made their first baskets of the night, as they finished layups off of feeds from Walsh and Paige Mott, respectively. The ‘Cats also began to heat up from downtown, with Jillian Brown and Burton both hitting threes, giving Northwestern a 33-18 lead at half. 

Despite a low-scoring third quarter for Northwestern that allowed the Badgers to cut the lead back to nine, the Wildcats showed their ability to respond and string together positive runs toward the end of the game. 

Similar to how it has been so far this season, these positive runs were led by none other than Burton. Although she struggled shooting the ball during the matchup, ending 3-of-8 from the field and 1-of-4 from three-point range, she drove hard to the basket and got her points from the free-throw line. With 10 free-throws in the fourth quarter itself, Burton finished 12-of-12 on the day and boosted her percentage to 92.3% on the year so far. 

The fourth quarter also included Anna Morris hitting her second shot of the season about three minutes in, showing promise of a successful return from an injury that has kept her out of seven games so far. 

The offense was not the only area that helped the ‘Cats clinch the win. Joe McKeown’s patented “Blizzard” defense was also in full effect, holding the Badgers to a season-low 49 points. Northwestern also caused Wisconsin to turn the ball over 23 times, 11 of which were steals. Notably, Burton’s team-high four steals on the day were closely followed by three from first-year Melannie Daley, proving these two may be a deadly defensive combination for guards as the season continues.

Northwestern’s first Big Ten win showed their ability to build off of the positive momentum from the win at Clemson. Looking forward, NU has four non-conference matchups before they return to Big Ten competition on New Years’ Eve against Minnesota.

We will be back with our coverage of the Northwestern Women’s basketball team next Saturday, December 11, as the ‘Cats take on Delaware at 2:00 p.m. CT. Listen to John Volk and Bradley Locker take on the action on WNUR 89.3 FM and Mixlr.