Women’s Basketball: No. 11 Cats upset by Michigan in Big Ten tourney


Joshua Hoffman/The Daily Northwestern

Joe McKeown consoles Veronica Burton and Sydney Wood. The Wildcats lost their opening round game of the Big Ten Tournament to Michigan.

Carlos Stinson-Maas, Assistant Sports Editor

Women’s Basketball

In two games against Michigan this season, Northwestern never trailed by more than eight points. On Friday, the Wolverines started the game on an 8-0 run en route to a 67-59 upset win over the Wildcats in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals.

After winning both regular season matchups against Michigan (21-10, 10-8 Big Ten), NU (26-4, 16-2 Big Ten) couldn’t convert down the stretch in its first game of the Big Ten tournament.

The Cats struggled early, falling behind in the opening minutes. But, they crawled back, forcing nine straight Wolverine misses and going on a 7-0 run to end the first quarter with a one point lead. Junior guard Jordan Hamilton nailed a fadeaway jumper with five seconds left to put NU ahead.

Sophomore forward Courtney Shaw provided a much needed defensive boost for the Cats off the bench, and added four points in the first.

The second quarter was back and forth throughout, with 10 lead changes and three ties. Hamilton took over for NU, scoring nine points including a buzzer-beating three to put the Cats up 32-31 at the half.

“This is just something that my teammates and coaches had been trying to get me to do,” Hamilton said. “I feel like it’s finally clicked and I just hope that that also carries over into the NCAA tournament.”

Both teams played physical defense the entire half, resulting in 19 personal fouls between the two teams.

NU opened up a four point lead to start the second half, its biggest of the game. Michigan bounced back, though, breaking off a 10-2 run to take a formidable lead — they led 49-44 at the end of the third, and didn’t surrender that lead for the remainder of the game.

Three Wolverine scorers scored at least 11 points through three quarters, with freshman guard Maddie Nolan shooting 3-3 from three point range.

“I give Maddie Nolan a lot of credit, hit big shots,” coach Joe McKeown said. “They were just backbreakers when they made them.”

The Cats cut Michigan’s lead to one possession multiple times in the fourth, even pulling within two with two minutes remaining. But, the Wolverines hit tough shots down the stretch to extend their lead — with 19 seconds remaining, junior forward Hailey Brown, who finished with 19 points, banked in a three to put NU away.

“We knew it was going to be a battle,” McKeown said. “Everybody is a little down right now because they fought hard.”

The Cats struggled from the free throw line, shooting 10-19, and from behind the arc, shooting 3-14. The starting five for NU shot a combined 32.5% from the field.

One bright spot for the Cats was sophomore guard Veronica Burton, who scored 15 points and dished out seven assists, both team highs.

Despite the loss, Burton said NU is focused on winning in the NCAA tournament.

“We’ve got to move on quickly,” Burton said. “We showed our resilience in the WNIT last near, and I have no doubt that we’ll do the same.”

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