Women’s Basketball: Scheid’s absence looms large in loss to Purdue


Owen Stidman/The Daily Northwestern

Veronica Burton dribbles the ball. Burton had five assists against Purdue on Sunday.

Benjamin Rosenberg, Assistant Sports Editor

Women’s Basketball

With junior forward Abi Scheid sidelined for Sunday’s game against Purdue, Northwestern not only lost one of its biggest players — the Wildcats were also missing one of their best outside shooters.

Scheid — tied for second amongst NU’s leading scorers with 11 points per game — was sorely missed down the stretch as the Cats’ comeback attempt fell short, and NU (9-7, 2-3 Big Ten) fell 57-54 to the Boilermakers (13-5, 4-1).

In a sport now dominated by perimeter shooting, it was a handful replacing a shooter as threatening as Scheid.

To make up for Scheid’s absence, the Cats started junior center Abbie Wolf in the post alongside senior forward Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah. Wolf impressed and finished with 6 points and eight rebounds in 27 minutes, but she lacks the 3-point shooting ability that Scheid has.

“I thought we did a lot of good things in (that lineup) tonight,” coach Joe McKeown said. “Our league is very matchup driven.”

Scheid’s absence also meant more playing time for junior forward Bryana Hopkins. Hopkins came up with a pair of steals on the defensive end but contributed just 4 points. She has attempted only four 3-pointers all season, making none.

And yet, NU stayed in the game until the very end, despite shooting 37 percent from the field. The majority of the offensive production sans Scheid had to come from sophomore guards Jordan Hamilton and Lindsey Pulliam.

Hamilton, serving mainly as a facilitator, hit a couple of clutch 3-pointers but finished with just 8 points. Pulliam continued her strong play since coming out of a shooting slump, scoring 15 points on 7-for-15 shooting. She had a chance to give the Cats the lead with under five seconds left, but her baseline jumper hit off the rim.

“Regardless of what’s going on, I’m going to do what I do, and that’s score the ball,” Pulliam said.

Scheid’s injury came at an inopportune time for NU, as both she and the team had been heating up before she went down during the Cats’ overtime loss at Michigan on Tuesday. Scheid scored a career-high 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting in a win over Illinois on Dec. 31. She then scored 13 points — including 3-of-5 from beyond the arc — as NU took down then-No. 15 Michigan State on Jan. 3.

Now, the Cats have lost two straight games by a combined four points, and the lack of Scheid’s presence has played a big role as NU tries to reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015.

On Sunday, the Cats started to put things together a little too late. Relying on Pulliam’s mid-range shooting and Kunaiyi-Akpanah in the post, NU cut a 13-point deficit down to one, but Purdue hit a pair of free throws late to seal it.

“The last time we played here on a Sunday, (Scheid) had 25 (points) and 10 (rebounds) against Illinois,” McKeown said. “She played great against Michigan State. She’s one of our key players, but… we’re not going to make excuses about injuries, we just have to keep playing.”

Email: benjaminrosenberg2021@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @bxrosenberg