Women’s Basketball: Finally healthy, Northwestern cruises past Ohio State


Owen Stidman/ The Daily Northwestern

Lindsey Pulliam lays it in. The sophomore guard scored a team-high 23 points.

Benjamin Rosenberg, Assistant Sports Editor

Women’s Basketball

Abi Scheid had missed Northwestern’s last six games, and Jordan Hamilton missed last week’s matchup against Illinois and was limited on Thursday against Minnesota.

The junior forward and the sophomore guard both returned to the starting lineup Sunday against Ohio State, meaning the Wildcats were fully healthy for the first time in nearly a month. NU (14-8, 7-4 Big Ten) rebounded from Thursday’s loss and beat the Buckeyes (9-11, 5-6) easily, 76-59.

“Having (Hamilton) back in the lineup really helped,” coach Joe McKeown said. “To have Abi Scheid out there, that’s a comfort zone for us. Just a great team effort. Everybody contributed, a lot of people did what they do well.”

The Cats started slowly, with both teams shooting poorly in the early going. But they scored the last six points of the first quarter to take a 16-12 lead and did not trail again.

NU forced nine turnovers in the first quarter to make up for its poor shooting. The Cats attempted 39 shots in the first half to Ohio State’s 23, which was a big part of why NU led by seven at halftime despite shooting just 33 percent.

The Cats then poured it on in the second half. Sophomore guard Lindsey Pulliam hit her first three shots in the third quarter and finished with a game-high 23 points. Senior center Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah powered her way to her 14th double-double of the year, finishing with 17 points and 13 rebounds to complement Pulliam’s scoring.

“I always think whatever I put up is going in,” Pulliam said. “That’s just my mindset. I was in the zone, focused and just ready to play today.”

NU continued to stretch the lead throughout the second half. After Ohio State cut a 15-point deficit to eight midway through the third quarter, the Cats went on a 12-5 run to end the period back up by 15. NU then scored 15 straight points in the fourth quarter to push the lead to 30, with Hamilton hitting back-to-back 3-pointers and Kunaiyi-Akpanah converting a pair of three-point plays during that stretch.

The Cats began to pull their starters after that, and the Buckeyes scored the game’s last 13 points to make the final score look more respectable. But NU still picked up its first win over Ohio State since 2016, and did so in emphatic fashion.

The win put the Cats in sole possession of fourth place in the Big Ten standings, which would give them a double bye in the conference tournament if things hold. More importantly, NU kept its hopes alive for returning to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015.

“That third quarter and into the fourth, we locked down defensively,” McKeown said. “Made it hard for them to get to the rim. They have a lot of interchangeable parts, they’ve got three-point shooters, they’ve got a great point guard who can attack, they’ve got big kids who can step out and shoot, and I thought we defended that pretty well.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @bxrosenberg