Women’s Basketball: Second half woes plague Wildcats in upset loss to Nebraska


Joshua Hoffman/Daily Senior Staffer

Senior guard Lindsey Pulliam drives into the paint against a Nebraska defender. She scored 22 points Wednesday night.

Skye Swann, Reporter

Women’s Basketball

After a disappointing home defeat against Rutgers last Thursday, Northwestern (11-5, 9-5 Big Ten) continued its streak Wednesday night with a 71-64 loss to Nebraska (10-9, 8-8 Big Ten).

The Huskers took a 1-0 lead in series play earlier this season after defeating the Cats 63-65 at Pinnacle Bank Area Dec. 31. The Cats were looking to avenge the loss at Welsh-Ryan Arena, but a sputtering second half performance helped the Huskers sweep the series.

“It was a tale of two halves,” coach Joe McKeown said.

Mere minutes into the first quarter, the Wildcats made a statement with their fast paced transition offense. The Huskers were shaken up by that fast paced ball movement, giving NU early chances to get some points.

Their hustle on the defensive side of the floor — the Cats forced 28 Nebraska turnovers — was admirable. Junior guard Veronica Burton was a huge defensive standout for NU with a season high eight steals.

After only getting two steals, a season low, against Rutgers, the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year shut down the Huskers each chance she got.

With just seven and a half minutes left in the first half, NU looked to assert its dominance on the offensive end of the court. Senior guard Lindsey Pulliam and junior guard Sydney Wood led, scoring 22 and 12 points respectively.

NU had built a nine-point lead over the Huskers at the end of the second frame of play. The Cats came out swiping and swinging, finishing the half with 12 steals while Nebraska tallied just one.

But Nebraska cut the lead to five points halfway through the third quarter. It didn’t help that the Huskers out-rebounded NU 52-33, which opponents rarely do against the Wildcats.

“We’ve got to do a much better job of blocking out,” McKeown said. “That’s a big challenge right now that we got to get better at but we will.”

NU struggled when Nebraska slowed down the offense and started setting up plays inside the paint. Huskers sophomore forward Isabelle Bourne was the heavy hand with 21 points. Bourne’s offensive ease in the center worked to Nebraska’s advantage as they outscored NU 16-11 in the third.

The Cats led by only four points heading into the last 10 minutes of play, and their lack of energy was evident. While NU’s bench was silent during the fourth quarter, the Huskers only got louder.

NU’s tendency to fall apart in the second half of the game appeared to haunt them against Nebraska, as it did against Rutgers and Michigan State. While the Huskers took the lead early in the fourth quarter, the game was far from over.

In the last five minutes of the game, Burton finally got on the board, hitting a life saving three pointer. But the Huskers continued to convert each time they were on offense.

With under two minutes left, Huskers junior guard Sam Haiby called game with an impressive two and one play, giving her team a five-point lead.

“We just learn from it and move forward,” Pulliam said on the loss. “We have a lot of basketball left to play. We’re a great team and we have big things to come for the rest of the year.”

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