Rapid Recap: No. 12 Michigan 63, Northwestern 58

Veronica+Burton+prepares+to+take+a+shot.+The+junior+guard+scored+19+points+in+Northwestern%27s+63-58+loss+to+No.+12+Michigan

Joshua Hoffman/Daily Senior Staffer

Veronica Burton prepares to take a shot. The junior guard scored 19 points in Northwestern’s 63-58 loss to No. 12 Michigan

Drew Schott, Web Editor


Men’s Basketball


Saturday’s matchup between Northwestern and No. 12 Michigan in Ann Arbor contained large implications for the upcoming Big Ten Tournament. The winner would receive the No. 4 seed and a double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis. 

Despite 19 points from junior guard Veronica Burton, 11 points from senior guard Lindsey Pulliam and a great defensive effort that forced 19 Wolverine turnovers, the Wildcats fell 63-58 on the road. 

The loss places the Wildcats into the No. 5 seed for the Big Ten Tournament. 

Pulliam nailed the Cats’ first basket of the day to tie Michigan at 2, but then the maize-and-blue raced out on a 6-0 run. 

Burton soon scored five points for NU as the purple-and-white’s defense held the Wolverines scoreless for more than two minutes.

But then, the Cats experienced a scoring drought of more than four minutes on top of a cold shooting streak. Until junior forward Courtney Shaw’s basket with 59 seconds left, NU shot 1-for-13 from the field. 

At the end of the first quarter, the Wolverines led 15-9. However, the momentum would soon shift into the Cats’ favor. 

After an early Michigan basket, triples from Burton and Pulliam sparked a 7-0 run in the opening minutes of the period to cut Michigan’s lead to 17-16. At the same time, the conference’s third-best scoring defense forced three early turnovers. 

Yet, the Cats’ deficit soon grew as the team failed to make a field goal for more than five minutes and the maize-and-blue added seven points. 

Pulliam would eventually nail a jumper and Shaw, playing in her first game since January, completed a crucial and-one sequence to cut the Wolverines’ lead to 27-25. But Michigan guard Amy Dilk made her second 3-pointer of the quarter to give Michigan a 30-25 lead after 20 minutes. 

Despite shooting 8 for 29 in the first half and having only three players score, NU was able to keep pace with the Big Ten’s fourth-best scoring offense behind great defense. The Cats prevented any Michigan player from reaching double digits in the opening two quarters and held the team below a 50 percent shooting percentage in both frames. 

That changed quickly in the third quarter, as Dilk nailed a jumper to give her 11 points and the Wolverines the start of an 8-0 run. Forward Naz Hillmon — the conference’s second-best scorer — eventually crossed into the ten-point threshold to help the Wolverines take a 13-point lead. 

After 30 minutes, Michigan led 50-41, even though Burton played a strong third quarter, scoring eight points off impressive baskets from the field. 

In the middle of the fourth, NU’s offense kicked into high gear, using a 6-0 run to cut Michigan’s lead to 55-51, while the Cats’ defense forced the Wolverines to miss seven straight field goals. 

Michigan would eventually extend the lead back to nine, and even though senior guard Jordan Hamilton nailed a 3-pointer, the maize-and-blue held on for the victory. 

Takeaways: 

1. Courtney Shaw returns to the court. 

Out with a lower-body injury since January, Shaw took the floor today in Ann Arbor for the first time since a win over Illinois on Jan. 21. Coming off the bench, the Maryland native played a key role in keeping Northwestern competitive in the first half. She scored a layup that broke a long scoring drought in the first quarter and scored five points — including a 3-point play — in the final two minutes of the opening 20 minutes. She also added a great basket in the fourth quarter to cut Michigan’s lead to four points. Shaw, currently NU’s top rebounder with 7.1 boards per game, grabbed seven rebounds today as well. 

2. Veronica Burton leads the way offensively. 

Burton, Northwestern’s leading scorer heading into Saturday’s matchup, has struggled recently from the field, shooting over 25 percent just twice in her last two games. But today in Ann Arbor, she showcased an ability to score from all areas of the court as the Wildcats’ top scorer with 19 points. She nailed two triples in the first half, her first game with multiple 3-pointers since facing Nebraska in mid-February. Burton also maintained success at the foul line. A nearly 80 percent free-throw shooter, the Massachusetts native shot five-for-six from the line against the Wolverines. Most of all, she demonstrated an abilty to find baskets in the paint, evidenced by great drives to the hoop and successive layups in traffic. With the conference tournament set to begin next week, strong offensive performances from Burton are crucial to help the Wildcats stay competitive with top Big Ten squads. 

3. Northwestern will not have a double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament. 

Today’s loss means the Wildcats will be the No. 5 seed in the conference tournament in Indianapolis. NU has lost this season to each of the top four seeds — Maryland, Indiana, Rutgers and Michigan — and has a chance to avenge its defeats in the postseason. The Cats will face off against either Illinois or Wisconsin in its opening matchup — the purple and white have defeated both squads this season.  

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Twitter: @dschott328

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