Women’s Basketball: Burton leads Northwestern to lopsided win over Minnesota


Daily file photo by Joshua Hoffman

Veronica Burton steps into a three-pointer. Burton had 20 points and a career-high 10 assists in the Cats’ win Monday night.

Benjamin Rosenberg, Senior Staffer

Women’s Basketball

Midway through the second quarter Monday night, Northwestern was getting a bit sloppy. The No. 16 Wildcats were leading by 16 points in the first, but a few ugly turnovers had allowed Minnesota to pull within single digits, prompting coach Joe McKeown to take a timeout.

Veronica Burton clearly heeded her coach’s message.

NU’s star junior guard keyed a 10-point run right out of the timeout. First, she got to the line on a driving layup and made both free throws. Then, she picked off a pass from the Golden Gophers’ Jasmine Powell and dished it to junior guard Lauryn Satterwhite for a three-pointer. A few possessions later, after a Minnesota offensive foul, Burton hit a three-pointer of her own to give the Cats (2-0, 1-0 Big Ten) their largest lead of the night.

They would cruise from there, never breaking a sweat in the second half en route to an 80-51 victory over the Golden Gophers (1-3, 0-2).

“(Burton) just understands the flow of the game so well,” McKeown said. “Her basketball IQ is off the charts. I wish I could say it’s coaching, but she just has this great knack for what we need at the time, whether it’s a steal, a pass, a three. She just gets it.”

Burton was in the middle of everything for NU, with a nearly perfect night shooting the ball. The Massachusetts native was 6-for-8 from the floor and 6-for-6 from the foul line for a game-high 20 points to go along with four steals and a career-high 10 assists.

Her co-star was fellow junior guard Sydney Wood, who finished with a career-best 19 points on 9-of-13 shooting as well as eight rebounds. Senior guard Lindsey Pulliam also finished in double figures with 13 points, as did junior forward Courtney Shaw with 10.

Burton was the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year last season but made a commitment to improve offensively in the offseason, and it has paid off so far with 21 and 20 points, respectively, in her first two games.

“On the offensive end, I looked to be aggressive and score the basketball when I could,” Burton said. “We do a really good job of not forcing up bad shots and just letting the game come to us.”

The Cats led by 15 at the half, and then turned up the defensive pressure in the third quarter to fully put the game away. NU held the Golden Gophers to seven points in that period, all of them by forward Kadiatou Sissoko, and Minnesota was scoreless for a five-plus minute stretch that bridged the third and fourth quarters.

The big lead gave McKeown the chance to play his reserves down the stretch, including three freshmen who were playing in their first-ever Big Ten game. Freshman forward Anna Morris, a five-star recruit from New Jersey, scored her first career points on a fourth-quarter layup.

Blowing out a team expected to finish near the bottom of the Big Ten standings is an encouraging sign for the Cats as they begin to defend their first conference title in 30 years.

“I liked our effort defensively tonight,” McKeown said. “The third quarter, we came out and played the way I think we’re capable of at both ends of the floor. Really balanced scoring — when we can do that, it’s hard to really focus on shutting one or two players down.”

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