Rapid Recap: No. 5 Northwestern 65, No. 4 Michigan 49

Veronica+Burton+prepares+to+take+a+shot.+The+junior+guard+scored+25+points+and+grabbed+13+rebounds+in+Northwestern%27s+win+over+Michigan.

Joshua Hoffman/Daily Senior Staffer

Veronica Burton prepares to take a shot. The junior guard scored 25 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in Northwestern’s win over Michigan.

Drew Schott, Web Editor


Women’s Basketball


Last March, following its first Big Ten Championship in 30 years, then-No. 2 Northwestern faced off against then-No.7 Michigan in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament. The Wildcats fell 67-59, and would continue their struggles against the Wolverines into 2021.

In January, NU lost to Michigan by 21 points in a nationally televised matchup. Then last week, the Wolverines defeated the Cats by five on Senior Day in Ann Arbor. 

No. 5 NU had another chance to defeat the No. 4 Wolverines Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis. 

And it did. Behind 25 points and 13 rebounds from junior guard Veronica Burton and 18 points from senior guard Lindsey Pulliam, the Cats defeated Michigan 65-49 and will play in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals for the first time since 2016 against No. 1 Maryland. 

Defense was on display in the opening minutes of the game as no team scored until Burton nailed a layup 90 seconds into the game. 

The teams then started to trade baskets, as forward and Big Ten Player of the Year Naz Hillmon nailed a layup following Burton’s score and Pulliam and forward Hailey Brown exchanged 3-pointers to tie the game at five apiece. 

Burton and Pulliam continued to find the basket, finishing the first quarter with eight and seven points, respectively. Even though NU shot at 38.9 percent from the field during the opening frame, the two guards both made 60 percent of their attempts. 

Meanwhile, the Cats’ defense forced the Wolverines to shoot five-for-20 from the field during the first ten minutes, but struggled to slow Hillmon, who scored 10 of Michigan’s 13 points. 

Up 17-13 after ten minutes, Northwestern’s second quarter started off just like the first: no scoring in the first minute. A free throw from Pulliam put the Cats up 18-15 with just under nine minutes remaining in the half. However, nearly two minutes later, the Wolverines tied the game at 19. The squad would soon take its first lead of the game on a basket from Hillmon. 

But NU would respond, as the team retook the lead behind two forced turnovers and a long triple from Burton. 

The teams would exchange baskets in the final minutes of the half, yet Michigan tied the game again with just over a minute remaining in the half. Hillmon then nailed two foul shots to give the Wolverines a 30-28 lead, but senior guard Jordan Hamilton drained a jumpshot to tie the game at 30 at halftime.

The start of the third quarter was all about Burton. She architected a 6-0 Cats run and dropped two baskets to give her 20 points. Pulliam later added a jumpshot to give her 10 points and NU a 38-32 lead nearing the halfway point of the quarter. 

The Wolverines would cut the lead to as few as two during the quarter, however scores from Pulliam and freshman forward Paige Mott sparked a 6-0 run in the final two minutes and gave the Cats a 46-38 lead at the end of the third. 

NU continued to find the basket in the fourth, with huge triples from Hamilton, Burton and redshirt junior Lauryn Satterwhite, as well as great defense, guiding the Cats to their second postseason victory in as many days. 

Takeaways:

1. Burton plays one of her best games of the season

Veronica Burton notched a double-double with 25 points and 13 rebounds against the Wolverines today. She was the best player on the court at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, nailing fancy layups in the paint, snagging steals to create a fast-paced offense and making triples from behind the arc. Burton also shot seven-for-14 from the field, marking the first time since late January in which the guard shot 50 percent or better from the field. Combining with Pulliam, who scored 18 and is five points away from reaching 2,000 career points, the Massachusetts native catalyzed one of NU’s best performances of the season. 

2. After balanced scoring attack against Illinois, Burton and Pulliam lead the way

In yesterday’s victory over the Fighting Illini, three players scored in double digits, with five more scoring at least four points. But today, Northwestern relied on the scoring of Burton and Pulliam against the Wolverines. While the two guards finished with 25 points and 18 points, respectively, only three other Wildcats players — Hamilton, Satterwhite and junior guard Sydney Wood — scored more than two points. With an upcoming matchup against Maryland — who has the best scoring offense in the country — Northwestern will need to put points on the board to upset the Terrapins and clinch a Big Ten Championship Game appearance. 

3. Northwestern will face Maryland

After No. 1 Maryland defeated No. 8 Nebraska earlier today, Northwestern knew who its opponent would be in the event of a victory. With a victory over the Wolverines, the Wildcats will face Maryland for the second time this season. The Terrapins beat NU in the regular season 62-50 on Senior Day in Evanston, but the Cats held the squad to its fewest points and worst shooting percentage of the season. 

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