Women’s Basketball: Northwestern gets blown out 72-57 on the road against No. 10 Maryland


Daily file photo by Owen Stidman

Veronica Burton attacks the basket. The freshman guard struggled in NU’s loss Thursday.

Andrew Golden, Assistant Sports Editor

Women’s Basketball

With just over two minutes remaining in the first quarter, junior forward Abi Scheid hit her first basket of the game. Unfortunately for Northwestern, the shot was its first basket of the game as well.

Scheid’s basket cut No. 10 Maryland’s lead to 15-5 but, before that, the Wildcats (14-9, 7-5 Big Ten) were 0-for-12 from the field and their only points came from three free throws from senior center Pallas Kuniayi-Akpanah.

Following the titanic struggles of the offense, NU lost 72-57 to the Terrapins (21-2, 10-2) on Thursday.

By the end of the first half, the team had shot 6-for-30 from the field and had as many made free throws as field goals. The second half was a different story offensively for the Cats, but Maryland and its steady offensive attack pulled away for the decisive victory.

“Well, they’re 21-2 and their defense is really good,” coach Joe McKeown said. “We got some really good shots, didn’t go in and it kinda snowballed. … I think that’s where the tide turned a little bit.”

The Terrapins and NU are statistically two of the best defensive teams in the Big Ten. Heading into the game, the Cats were the top-ranked scoring defense in the Big Ten, giving up just 57.5 points per game. Maryland, on the other hand, was fifth in the Big Ten with 65 points per game.

Both teams played tough defense in the first few minutes of the game in different ways, with Maryland playing man-to-man while NU came out in a 2-3 zone. With 5:46 remaining in the first quarter, the Cats and Maryland had combined to score just seven points. But then the opposition started to find its rhythm, jumping out to a 14-point lead at the end of the first quarter.

In the second quarter, NU continued to struggle from the field and the Terrapins extended their lead to 21 by halftime. NU’s leading scorers this season, Kuniayi-Akpanah and sophomore guard Lindsey Pulliam both couldn’t buy a basket early on, despite the fact that they combined to score 12 of the Cats’ 20 first half points. Pulliam, a Maryland native, led all scorers with 18 points on 8-for-22 shooting from the field.

“She’s having an incredible year,” McKeown said. “She’s the heart and soul of our team. … She’s also the focal point of everybody’s defense, but she played really well tonight, played really hard.”

Scheid added 16 points, but aside from her and Pulliam, no one on NU else scored in double digits. Kuniayi-Akpanah failed to make a field goal, scoring all five of her points from the free throw line.

The Cats team of the second half looked like a completely different one from the first. NU was much more effective, outscoring the Terrapins 37-31. As a team, the Cats shot 54 percent from the field in the third and fourth quarters, but it wasn’t enough. NU is now at the back end of its conference schedule, with six games left to play before the Big Ten Tournament.

“We’re on to Minnesota,” McKeown said. “We got a big game Sunday and that’s the most important thing moving forward.”

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