Women’s Basketball: A tale of two halves for Northwestern’s offense


Joshua Hoffman/Daily Senior Staffer

Veronica Burton steps into a three pointer.

Greg Svirnovskiy, Sports Editor

Women’s Basketball

Northwestern didn’t lose to Michigan State (10-5, 5-5 Big Ten) on Sunday. But after a second half where the Wildcats (11-3, 9-3 Big Ten) were outscored by a whopping 16 points, it didn’t feel like a win.

Making just six field goals in the second frame, the Cats watched a 19-point lead slip away before a frantic final minutes which culminated in a 63-60 escape.

Things looked good early. A pair of three-pointers by senior guard Lindsey Pulliam put the Cats up 12-4 at the midway point of the first quarter. That lead was extended to 13 points on a three-point jumper by junior guard Veronica Burton.

At the same time, Michigan State was embroiled in an offensive rut that stretched through the entire first quarter. They put up just seven points in the first ten minutes of play. By the beginning of the second, Pulliam’s 12 points on 5-8 shooting were more than the entire Spartans team was bringing to the floor.

And the Cats were making sure their opponents offensive display meant something. They were hitting 45.8 percent of shots in the first half, led by Pulliam’s 13 points and senior guard Jordan Hamilton’s seven points and three rebounds. By the time the second quarter was over, NU led 37-18.

And then, the shots ran cold.

The Spartans opened the second half on an 8-0 run, followed by another 6-0 run later in the third quarter. Play would level off in the immediate aftermath, until the Spartans used another burst of offense to tie the game up late in the fourth quarter.

“In the third quarter they came out, came right at us,” coach Joe McKeown said. “We had a lot of foul trouble, some injuries. They played really well.”

The Cats were felled by injuries. Hamilton exited the game in the third quarter. Pulliam was forced off in the fourth before returning in the game’s dying moments and hitting a clutch shot to help seal NU’s victory.

“Lindsey coming in and hitting that big shot,” McKeown said. “But to let them off the hook like we did is really concerning and we gotta address that.”

In the end, the Cats were saved by free throw shooting. They ended the night more than doubling the Spartans in points scored off of free throws to the tune of a 24-11 advantage. Many of those came in the third and fourth quarter, when shots weren’t falling in any other way.

Burton’s heroics after Michigan State took a two-point lead in the fourth quarter helped the Cats seal the win. She sank a free throw after drawing a foul to cut the Spartans’ lead down to one, and then drove for a contested layup a minute later to give NU a 2-point lead, before hitting two key free throws in the contest’s waning seconds.

She’d end the night scoring 19 points along with three blocks and two steals.

“She’s a great player,” McKeown said. “They put a lot of people on her and switched on her. They were really physical defensively. She’s a great player. Sometimes the ball doesn’t go in. That happens to every player. But she makes up for it on the other end, defensively.”

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Twitter: @gsvirnovskiy

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