Women’s Basketball: Northwestern continues on their winning streak with a 77-67 win over a tough Iowa Hawkeye team


Joshua Hoffman/Daily Senior Staffer

Jordan Hamilton dribbles the ball through half court on an offensive drive against Michigan on Jan. 3. The Cats took a drubbing against Michigan, but it may have propelled them in wins against Wisconsin and Iowa this week.

Skye Swann, Reporter

Women’s Basketball

After shock losses to Nebraska and Michigan last week, Northwestern (6-2, 4-2) needed a week of victories to turn around a season that looked to be veering off course. Against Wisconsin on Wednesday and Iowa on Sunday, they did just that — winning and doing it with ease. 

In the process, they’ve staved off some of the Big Ten’s top scorers. Against Wisconsin, the Wildcats’ defense was pitted against stellar sophomore Sydney Hilliard, (8-2, 4-2, Big Ten) who came into the contest averaging 19 points per game but scored just seven. Against Iowa, (8-2, 4-2, Big Ten) they faced off against superstar freshman Caitlin Clark. She’s a fiery offensive producer who entered the contest averaging a Big Ten leading 27.5 points per game. 

But the strong defensive effort from junior guard Veronica Burton and junior guard Sydney Wood kept Clark to a season low of eight points. Burton and Wood also starred on offense, both ending the night in double figures.

“We stuck to what we needed to do and what we do best,” said Burton, whose 3 steals in the game showcased the Cats dominance on defense. “We minimized their three-point shots and stayed aggressive on defense.”

 Senior guard Jordan Hamilton was NU’s top offensive contributor. Her 19 points led both teams on Saturday, followed closely by Burton (18) and Wood (17).

It’s a statement win against a top team. Led by Clark, Iowa came into the game with just one Big Ten loss, a nailbiter to Michigan State back in early December. They hadn’t lost since. The No. 22 Cats were focused on proving their losses last week weren’t indicative of their ability to beat one of the nation’s best.

“Last week we did not play our best basketball, and we wanted to play our best one game at a time,” Hamilton said.

Saturday’s matchup at Welsh-Ryan arena showed a hungry Northwestern. Although the Cats led at the start, back-to-back turnovers allowed Iowa (8-2, 4-2, Big Ten) to gain the lead. After falling down big, the Hawkeyes went on a 11-0 scoring run to take a short lived lead before the Cats clawed back on a set of free throws from Wood and sophomore guard Kaylah Rainey.  

They came out strong in the second half, firing shots without fear from all areas of the court. Hamilton led the charge with consecutive three-pointers, helping NU pull away. The Hawkeyes focused their defenders on senior guard Lindsay Pulliam and Burton. Hamilton capitalized, taking advantage of the lax defense and finding easy buckets in tight. 

“Taking the advice from teammates and knowing I was open gave me the confidence to shoot down my shots,” Hamilton said. “We made sure to play at Northwestern level and keep the game at our speed.”

Burton strengthened the Wildcats lead with 7 assists and a crucial three-point play. NU turned defense into offense, capitalizing on Iowa’s 18 turnovers, forcing 10 of them. Wood helped lead in the Cats’ defensive dominance, compiling 7 rebounds.

“Wood is probably the most underrated player in the Big Ten,” Coach Joe McKeown said. “She can play so many positions. She loves playing defense and it helped keep Caitlin Clark to a low scoring game.”

Not only were Wood’s defensive efforts instrumental, but she stopped Northwestern’s scoring drought in the second half. Her shots tied a game that looked like it was slipping away. From there, the Cats went on a 7-0 scoring run to close the fourth quarter. 

Northwestern showcased their game in the second half, scoring 41 points to the Hawkeyes’ 31. Clark fouled out of the game and the Hawkeyes never cut into the Cats’ lead. 

“It really was a hard-fought game. A typical hard-fought Big Ten game,” McKeown said. “We really emphasized our defensive effort making sure to limit all chances of Iowa shooting from the arc.”

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