Daily file photo by Joshua Hoffman
Lindsey Pulliam and Northwestern needed to rebound from a rough second quarter.
So when the junior guard sank a wide-open 3-pointer from the right corner less than two minutes into the second half, it was an encouraging sign. And when she hit another from the exact same spot 25 seconds later, the Wildcats were on their way to a third straight win.
NU (3-0) went on to outscore Duke 29-4 in the third quarter, turning a tie game at halftime into a 63-42 blowout win at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, North Carolina.
“We had been in control of the game, and then they made a run in the second quarter,” coach Joe McKeown said. “I just loved how we started the third quarter. Those two threes were like deafening silence. Then we kept scoring.”
The Cats did keep scoring, and they kept getting stops as well. NU made 10 of 17 shots during the period, compared to just two of 18 for Duke (2-2). The discrepancy on 3-pointers was even more drastic — NU hit on five of six shots from behind the arc, while the Blue Devils missed all four of their attempts. The Cats also forced five turnovers in the quarter and committed none.
Pulliam scored 12 of her 26 points in the period, but NU got contributions from up and down the lineup. Redshirt sophomore guard Lauryn Satterwhite, who missed the entire 2017-18 season due to injury and played just four games last year, came off the bench and hit two 3-pointers as the Cats kept adding to their lead.
“Really proud of her, for her to hit shots and to make plays defensively,” McKeown said. “Just to feel like she’s part of this team, not just as a teammate. It was great for her.”
NU started the game hot, jumping out to an 8-0 lead and holding a 19-11 advantage after a quarter. Senior center Abbie Wolf connected on all three of her shots in the opening 10 minutes and finished with 12 points and seven rebounds on 6-of-10 from the field.
The first six points of the game came on a pair of 3-pointers from Pulliam, who finished 4-for-7 from deep — a positive sign considering extending her range was a major point of emphasis for Pulliam in the offseason.
“When she can do that, it just makes her really hard to guard,” McKeown said. “Her midrange game and her ability to put it on the floor and get to the rim are her strengths, but now people have to guard her at the (3-point) line, so it’s another weapon for her offensively.”
Duke turned the tables in the second quarter, outscoring the Cats 14-6 and holding NU to 3-for-15 shooting. Three-pointers by Haley Goreki and Miela Goodchild, respectively, gave the Blue Devils a pair of short-lived leads, but a Wolf layup with eight seconds left tied the score going into the break.
But the Cats’ dominant third quarter rendered the final period irrelevant. NU clamped down defensively, holding Duke to under 30 percent from the field and limiting the Blue Devils’ leading scorers, Goreki and Leaonna Odom, to a combined 18 points. The Cats were also efficient and unselfish offensively, assisting on 21 of their 25 field goals.
Neither Pulliam nor Wolf were surprised at NU’s 3-0 start, which also includes a road win in overtime over Marquette on Thursday. McKeown said he was not surprised either, but emphasized that the Cats still have a ton of work ahead of them.
“At Marquette was a really tough game, at Duke is a great game to schedule,” McKeown said. “These kids are hungry. I’m impressed because of the way we came out to start and never let Duke really get going. It was a great win for us, but we won’t get full of ourselves.”
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