Rapid Recap: Arizona 56, Northwestern 42


Daily file photo by Owen Stidman

Veronica Burton makes a move. The freshman led the Wildcats with 16 points in Saturday’s loss to Arizona in the WNIT final.

Ella Brockway, Sports Editor

Women’s Basketball

Northwestern’s season came to an end in a 56-42 loss to Arizona in the WNIT championship game at a packed McKale Center — the crowd of 14,644 was the fourth-largest for a championship game in the tournament’s history — in Tucson on Saturday.

Freshman guard Veronica Burton led the Wildcats (21-15, 9-9 Big Ten) with 16 points, while sophomore guard Lindsey Pulliam added 14. NU’s total of 41 points was its second-lowest this season.

Arizona (24-13, 7-11 Pac-12) scored seven points in less than 45 seconds to hop out to a 9-5 lead early in the first quarter. Both teams took the majority of the first to find their rhythms and settle into the game, combining for 13 turnovers in the game’s opening frame.

The home team continued to make runs into the second quarter, eventually building a 13-point lead before halftime. But the Cats struggled to get things going offensively on their end, scoring only five points in the entire quarter and shooting 3-for-8 from 3-point range in the first half.

NU managed to put only five points on the board in the third quarter. The Cats were outscored in both points in the paint (14-8) and struggled from field goal range (7-for-21) in the second half.

Arizona’s lead never went below 13 points for the rest of the afternoon, as NU — coming off a four-day stretch of cross-country road trips and stops in three different time zones — couldn’t muster up enough to stage a comeback.


1. Aari McDonald dominated NU’s defense. Arizona’s star player entered Saturday’s game fresh off of AP All-American Honorable Mention recognition and averaging the third-most points per game (24.2) in the nation. She showed exactly why in her team’s win, scoring a game-high 19 points and adding seven rebounds. McDonald turned the ball over six times in the first half, but recovered in the second and totaled six steals on the defensive end.

2. Kuniayi-Akpanah left her mark on this program. The center will finish her career in Evanston without a championship, but she’ll leave a legacy that will last long after her graduation. She didn’t end with a particularly captivating statline — only 41 points in — but she earned a place on the All-Big Ten First Team for her play this season and became only the second player in program history to collect more than 1,000 career rebounds. She set the WNIT’s all-time rebounding record with more than 70 boards in six games, and NU’s postseason run couldn’t have happened without her.

3. The future is bright. As Kunaiyi-Akpanah was the only senior on this season’s roster, the Cats will return nearly 80 percent of their production for the 2019-20 campaign. Pulliam will likely continue her upward trajectory and develop into an even more versatile player, while Burton emerged as an able leader of NU’s offense. Scheid and Wolf, both current juniors, will also be back to make up the Cats’ frontcourt.

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