Women’s Basketball: No. 19 Northwestern beats Michigan on the road for the first time since 2015


Daily file photo by Joshua Hoffman

Sydney Wood dribbles in the paint. The sophomore guard scored a game-high tying 14 points against Michigan on Thursday.

Drew Schott, Reporter

Women’s Basketball

Over the past decade, the Crisler Center hasn’t been kind to Northwestern.

The home of Michigan basketball has become synonymous with defeat for the Wildcats, who have only won once in their last six trips to Ann Arbor.

As Michigan raced out on a 5-0 run in the second quarter to take an eight-point lead on No. 19 NU, it started to look like the Cats’ seventh-straight loss in Ann Arbor — and second loss of the season to an unranked opponent — could be a reality.

But with NU vying for the top spot in the Big Ten, sophomore guard Sydney Wood knew a loss wasn’t an option. So the Maryland native responded to the Wolverines’ surge by playing her best game of February.

Wood scored 14 points in the Cats’ (21-3, 11-2) 66-60 win over Michigan (15-10, 6-8), orchestrating a 25-14 third-quarter that saw her score ten points and the Big Ten’s second-best scoring defense force eight turnovers.

Junior guard Lindsey Pulliam — who scored 32 points in her last game against the Wolverines — only scored four points on 1-for-10 shooting, but senior forward Abi Scheid and senior center Abbie Wolf replaced her productivity by adding 14 and 13 points, respectively, as NU achieved a season-sweep of the Wolverines.

“Our girls are resilient and battled back, no matter the circumstance,” assistant coach Preston Reid said. “They battled back and stuck together as a team. Any time you can win on the road, it’s important.”

In the game’s opening minutes, the Cats’ offense found its groove as the team drained contested jump shots, but the squad was overwhelmed by the Wolverines.

During the second quarter, NU’s performance declined as the squad went scoreless for more than four minutes. The Cats were unable to stop the Wolverines’ surging offense, as the team shot nearly 50 percent from the floor.

Michigan, who forced four NU turnovers, drew Veronica Burton into early foul trouble, making McKeown sub her out of the game for senior guard Byrdy Galernik. The Ohio native scored four points and grabbed one rebound, but it wasn’t enough for NU to take the lead, as the Cats went down 35-30 at the half.

At halftime, Wood said coach Joe McKeown told his team to play strong basketball to close Michigan’s lead.

“We talked about defense and picking up the intensity,” Wood said. “We knew it would spark our offense.”

And in the second half, NU heeded McKeown’s message. Wood — who shot 100 percent from the field — scored six straight points to cut into Michigan’s lead. Forcing eight Wolverine turnovers, NU eventually took the lead with a little more than two minutes left in the quarter.

Up 55-49 at the end of the third quarter, NU went scoreless for nearly the first three minutes of the fourth. With less than five minutes left, Michigan attempted a comeback as they cut the Cats’ lead to two with under five minutes to play. But a three-pointer from Burton and a stifling defensive effort from NU allowed Wood to ice the game with free throws with seven seconds left.

Leaving Ann Arbor with their first win since 2015, the Cats are currently second in the conference and a half game behind No. 10 Maryland, who defeated No. 17 Iowa on Thursday night. Scheid, calling the Crisler Center a “crazy” environment to play in, said she is excited for what NU will achieve in the near future.

“All our hard work is paying off,” Scheid said. “We will keep building on this momentum and we hope to take it to the NCAA Tournament.”

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