Women’s Basketball: Wildcats seek second-straight Big Ten Championship


Daily file photo by Joshua Hoffman

Lindsey Pulliam goes up for a layup. Pulliam was named to the mid-season Wooden Award Top 25 on Thursday.

Drew Schott, Reporter

Women’s Basketball

In 2019, Northwestern made history. The Wildcats won their first Big Ten title in three decades, set a program win record and had six players receive All-Big Ten honors. After their shocking loss to Michigan at the Big Ten Tournament, NU hoped to show the nation in the NCAA Tournament why they were one of the best teams in women’s college basketball.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic led to the cancellation of March Madness, ending the Cats’ quest for glory on a bitter note, while also giving the squad sizeable ammunition for success in the 2020 campaign.

This season, NU will be led by its dominant backcourt of senior Lindsey Pulliam and junior Veronica Burton. In 2019, Pulliam averaged 18.8 points — the third-highest mark in the Big Ten — and was unanimously named to the All-Big Ten First Team. Burton, the reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, led the conference in steals and averaged a career-high 11.6 points.

The Cats’ offense must replicate its 2019 efficiency to win games this upcoming season. Last year, the squad averaged more than 70 points per game and thrived in high-pressure situations like its come-from-behind overtime victory against Indiana in January.

Another key to NU’s success in 2020 will be how coach Joe McKeown replaces the frontcourt of Abbie Wolf and Abi Scheid. The likely candidates to fill the shoes of NU’s leading rebounder in 2019 and the nation’s second-best 3-point shooter last season are junior forward Courtney Shaw and freshman forward Anna Morris. Shaw showed flashes during the Cats’ loss to the Wolverines in Indianapolis, while Morris — a five-star recruit — should make an immediate impact in the paint and from behind the arc.

With experienced guards, emerging forwards and a reigning Big Ten Coach of The Year behind the bench, Northwestern should be back in the conversation for their second-straight Big Ten title, as well as a berth in the NCAA Tournament.

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Twitter: @dschott328

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