Women’s Basketball: Northwestern pulls out narrow 66-63 victory over Boston College


Daily file photo by Joshua Hoffman

Lindsey Pulliam dribbles the ball. The junior guard led the team with 25 points.

Peter Warren, Print Managing Editor

All Wednesday night at Welsh-Ryan Arena, Northwestern’s defense had forced Boston College ball handlers into making mistakes when the basketball was in their hands. And up 64-61 with under 30 seconds remaining, the Wildcats defense came up big.

Junior guard Lindsey Pulliam and sophomore guard Sydney Wood trapped Milan Bolden-Morris outside the arc. Bolden-Morris broke the trap, but didn’t have a clean grip on the ball as she tried to pass the ball. Marnelle Garraud grabbed the ball, but when she tried to swing it, sophomore guard Veronica Burton was there to jump into the passing lane.

It was NU’s (6-1) 21st forced turnover off the day, and after Pulliam nailed two free throws on the other end, the Cats had secured the 66-63 victory over the Eagles (5-4).

“You got to find ways to win ugly,” coach Joe McKeown said. “I told them in the locker room, ‘I’ve coached a lot of ugly teams. I can go without shaving and not get a haircut all year if you just want to win and win ugly. That’s fine with me, but we have to get better.’”

After struggling to get anything going from beyond the arc in the last two games, NU did better against the Eagles defense, hitting five triples. Even Pulliam — who hadn’t hit a 3-pointer since Nov. 17 — got in on the action. The Maryland native ended the first quarter by nailing a 3-pointer with just a few seconds remaining to put the Cats up 18-14 after 10 minutes. She later hit a second shot from beyond the arc in the second quarter.

“They left me open so I shot it,” Pulluam said on her 3-pointers. “It went it.”

Pulliam was the leading scorer for the game, dropping 25 points on an efficient 10 of 16 shooting. It was the 22nd time in 75 career games she scored at least 20 points in a contest.

While the Cats defense was solid, for the first time all season, NU was completely overmatched on the glass. Boston College had 53 total rebounds compared to 29 for the Cats. The Eagles were also outstanding on the offensive glass, grabbing 21 boards on that end of the court, leading to 24 second chance points.

McKeown said Boston College out-hustled and outworked NU on the glass, and Pulliam added the coaching staff let the players know that.

“That first time out, we got ripped a little bit for not rebounding,” Pulliam said. “And then halftime we talked about. Obviously that’s not how we want to rebound the basketball.”

In addition to the rebounding issues, foul trouble was a problem. Sophomore guard Veronica Burton drew her third foul in the second quarter and sat out much of the third quarter. As a result, freshman guard Kayla Rainey — who had open heart surgery a year ago Wednesday — and senior forward Amber Jamison played key minutes off the bench in the third quarter after both averaged under seven minutes per game entering the contest.

And in the middle of the fourth, Pulliam had to take a seat for a few minutes after she picked up her fourth foul.

Despite leading for over 80 percent of the game, NU was never able to pull away from the Eagles. The Cats never led by more than seven points and spent most of the game holding a 2-5 point advantage.

Along with Pulliam, senior guard Byrdy Galernik continued her torrid stretch of play. The sixth man was the second-leading scorer.

McKeown said he is proud of how Galernik has improved and continued to develop, highlighting her improved 3-point shooting as a key to her growth.

“I definitely can tell my confidence is up,” Galernik said. “I’m just taking advantage of what the defense gives…I’m doing whatever it takes to win.”

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