Women’s Basketball: Northwestern falls to No. 8 Maryland 62-50 on Senior Day


Kelsey Carroll/The Daily Northwestern

Veronica Burton prepares to lay up a shot. The junior guard scored a team-high 15 points in Northwestern’s 62-50 loss to No. 8 Maryland.

Drew Schott, Web Editor

Women’s Basketball

On Feb. 29, 2020, Northwestern made history on Senior Day by winning its first Big Ten title in 30 years.

Behind 31 combined points from then-seniors Abi Scheid and Abbie Wolf, the Wildcats defeated Illinois 75-58 in front of 4,016 passionate fans, its largest crowd since the 2018 reopening of Welsh-Ryan Arena.

364 days later, only 20 fans, all family members of NU’s seniors, were in the stands to support the Cats in their Senior Day matchup against No. 8 Maryland. They almost witnessed another massive win.

Freshman forward Anna Morris nailed a 3-point shot in the middle of the third quarter to make the score 38-37, giving NU a chance to take control of the conference matchup for the first time.

Instead, the Terrapins raced out to a 9-0 run to end the frame while the Cats missed five straight field goals. The deficit proved too great as NU (13-6, 11-6 Big Ten) fell 62-50 to Maryland (19-2, 15-1 Big Ten) in the final home game for four senior players including star guard Lindsey Pulliam.

“We got to turn people over,” coach Joe McKeown said. “We couldn’t get easy baskets tonight and we’ve been able to do that a lot this year, which is why we’ve won 11 Big Ten games. We got to find them.”

The Cats’ offense stagnated once again in the second half, scoring only 23 points on a 25 percent shooting percentage. Despite clutch baskets like Morris’ triple, NU went one-for-eight from behind the arc and six-for-11 from the free-throw line, important baskets that could have catalyzed a comeback bid.

But just like against Rutgers — the Cats lost by 16 despite being down two in the fourth quarter — and against Nebraska — who outscored NU 47-31 in the second half — the Cats fell victim to another late-game collapse.

Even though it was facing the conference’s eighth-best scoring defense, NU’s top scorers struggled to find the basket in the third and fourth quarter as Pulliam made only two of her 11 field goal attempts and junior guard Veronica Burton shot less than 30 percent from the field.

Outside of Morris and fellow freshman forward Paige Mott, who shot 100 percent on three combined field goals, no Cats player gained higher than a 33 percent field goal percentage in the second half.

“We can’t only depend on two or three people to score all our points,” Morris said. “I’ve realized that it can’t just be Veronica and Lindsey scoring all our points.”

Burton and Pulliam finished the game as NU’s leading scorers, with 15 and 13 points, respectively. They were also key cogs of one of the Cats’ best defensive performances of the season.

Maryland came into Evanston with the nation’s top scoring offense, averaging 93.2 points per game, and two of the Big Ten’s best scorers in guards Ashley Owusu (18.9 points per game) and Diamond Miller (17.7 points per game).

After 40 minutes, the Terrapins left with their lowest scoring output of the 2020-21 campaign and a season-worst 39.7 shooting percentage.

The Cats also created a nearly-four minute scoring drought in the second quarter and forced 14 turnovers, including five steals from Burton, the nation’s steal leader.

“We did a great job defending the 3-point line,” McKeown said. “For the most part, we closed down on their shooters and made it hard for them to score inside.”

Despite a difficult loss to one of the nation’s top teams, Sunday was a special day for the Cats, who honored Pulliam, senior guard Jordan Hamilton, senior guard Brooke Pikiell and senior guard Lauryn Satterwhite in a pregame ceremony. The four combined for over 2,700 points, 750 rebounds and 600 assists in their collegiate careers.

Most importantly, the 2021 class was part of team history.

“They’ve just been incredible ambassadors for our program,” McKeown said. “(They) put Northwestern women’s basketball back in the top 25, where we belong.”

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Twitter: @dschott328

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