Women’s Basketball: Two players honored heading into Big Ten Tournament

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Women’s Basketball: Two players honored heading into Big Ten Tournament

Lindsey Pulliam attacks the basket. The sophomore guard was named to the first team All-Big Ten roster earlier this week.

Lindsey Pulliam attacks the basket. The sophomore guard was named to the first team All-Big Ten roster earlier this week.

Daily file photo by Owen Stidman

Lindsey Pulliam attacks the basket. The sophomore guard was named to the first team All-Big Ten roster earlier this week.

Daily file photo by Owen Stidman

Daily file photo by Owen Stidman

Lindsey Pulliam attacks the basket. The sophomore guard was named to the first team All-Big Ten roster earlier this week.

Charlie Goldsmith, Sports Editor

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Women’s Basketball


In 2018, Northwestern entered the Big Ten Tournament with only four regular season conference wins. One year later, the Wildcats (16-13, 9-9 Big Ten) will enter the same tournament with more than twice as many regular season victories, a first round bye and two first-team all-conference honorees.

On Monday, senior center Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah and sophomore guard Lindsey Pulliam were named among the 10 best players in the conference. They were the first NU players to receive this recognition since forward Nia Coffey in 2017.

Pulliam led the Cats with 16.7 points per game this season, the fourth highest average in the Big Ten. She has scored double digits in 28 consecutive games and set a season-high with 27 points in January at Indiana.

Kunaiyi-Akpanah averaged 11 points and rebounds in her senior season, and she became the second NU player to earn 1,000 career rebounds late this season. Her 11 rebounds per game is the third highest mark in the Big Ten, and her 143 offensive rebounds on the season is the fourth highest mark in the NCAA.

In the second round of the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis, the Cats will face Michigan State (19-10, 9-9). In December, NU upset the Spartans when they were the 15th ranked team in the NCAA. Kunaiyi-Akpanah finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds in that game, and Pulliam led the team with 18 points.

But in that game, sophomore guard Jordan Hamilton played 30 minutes. She’s missed several consecutive games with an undisclosed injury, and in a recent media availability, coach Joe McKeown declined to specify if she’d be available for the Big Ten Tournament. Hamilton has started every game when healthy in her NU career and she averages 9.5 points and 3.3 assists per game this year.

After a strong non-conference slate, Michigan State finished Big Ten play with an identical record to the Cats. The Spartans defeated No. 3 Oregon and No. 16 Iowa before facing NU in January, but since then they’ve lost to Nebraska, a team that will miss the NCAA Tournament.

ESPN currently projects Michigan State to be a nine seed in the NCAA Tournament, with the Cats clearly out of the picture. A first-round win would seemingly clinch a tournament berth for the Spartans, giving NU a chance to play spoiler in Indianapolis.

If the Cats advance to the third round, they’ll face the Big Ten’s No. 1 seed, Maryland, who beat NU 72-57 in their only matchup of the season.

Email: charliegoldsmith2021@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @2021_charlie

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