Women’s Basketball: 17-0 first quarter run powers Cats to win over Minnesota


Courtesy of Joshua Hoffman

Veronica Burton looks to pass the ball. The junior guard finished with 20 points and a career-high 10 assists in No. 16 Northwestern’s win over Minnesota.

Drew Schott, Assistant Sports Editor

Women’s Basketball

Nearly one minute into the first quarter, Minnesota guard Sara Scalia nailed a 3-point shot that put the Golden Gophers ahead of No. 16 Northwestern 3-2.

It would mark Minnesota’s only lead in the game Monday night.

A 17-0 run in the first quarter by the Wildcats (2-0, 1-0 Big Ten) put the game out of reach for the Golden Gophers (1-3, 0-2 Big Ten) who were overwhelmed by NU’s tenacious defense and efficient scoring.

In three minutes and twenty seconds, the Cats shot 7-for-8 from the field and forced four turnovers, a sequence that fueled NU to an 80-51 win over Minnesota.

“We’re a team of runs,” coach Joe McKeown said. “We don’t want to be. We want to be more consistent. But that run really… took a lot of the wind out of Minnesota.”

The Cats opened the scoring at Welsh-Ryan Arena when junior forward Courtney Shaw sunk a layup 35 seconds into the game.

Scalia made her 3-pointer 19 seconds later. And the Cats quickly responded.

The squad dominated in the paint as layups from Shaw and junior guards Sydney Wood and Veronica Burton — as well as an offensive rebound from Shaw that led to a jump shot from senior guard Lindsey Pulliam — gave NU a 10-3 lead.

On the next possession, a block from Shaw led to a fast break triple from Pulliam.

During this nearly two-minute span, Golden Gophers forward Kadiatou Sissoko traveled twice, Scalia missed a 3-point shot and guard Gadiva Hubbard had her shot blocked by Shaw.

“One thing we’re really trying to capitalize off this year is coming out strong and getting an early lead,” Burton said. “That momentum… really transfers, and it helped us throughout the rest of the game.”

After Scalia was off the mark on yet another triple, senior guard Jordan Hamilton scored her first points of the game. Then, the Cats’ defense rose to the occasion.

Burton stole the ball from Minnesota guard Jasmine Powell and raced down the court, drawing a foul and then making two shots from the charity stripe.

Nearly 25 seconds later, Burton would make another layup and complete the 17-0 run.

“We talked about how Minnesota doesn’t always start the game off strong,” Burton said. “That was definitely a huge focus for us coming in, just kind of taking advantage of that and just getting the good shots that we wanted early on.”

The Golden Gophers’ second basket would come more than five minutes after their first, as Powell made the score 19-6 on a 3-pointer. Minnesota eventually started to climb back, cutting their deficit to nine nearly halfway into the second quarter. As a result, McKeown called a timeout to help his unit regroup.

“Coaches calmed everyone down,” Burton said. “Our defense was getting lapses and stuff like that.”

NU took control after the break, finishing the first half on an 11-5 run. In the second frame, the squad led by as many as 32 points before their 29-point victory.

The Cats’ 17-0 run set the tone in the conference matchup, as Burton and junior guard Sydney Wood had career nights. The Massachusetts native scored 20 points and dished out a career-high 10 assists, the most by an NU player since 2017.

With NU heading to West Lafayette on Thursday to take on Purdue, Wood said she was pleased at how well she and her teammates managed to take control in their first conference matchup of the year.

“Coming into the game, we really wanted to focus on running in transition and getting live ball turnovers,” Wood said. “We did a really good job of everybody running their lanes and setting screens in transition and sharing the ball.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @dschott328

Related Stories: 

Women’s Basketball: No. 17 Northwestern dominates Eastern Illinois in season-opener

Women’s Basketball: Cats look to repeat last year’s success with revamped defense and returning stars