Women’s Basketball: Lindsey Pulliam is leaving her mark as one of Northwestern’s greatest basketball players


Joshua Hoffman/Daily Senior Staffer

Lindsey Pulliam on the court in a February game versus Wisconsin. Pulliam, who is pulling up stakes at the end of the season for the WNBA, has led Northwestern to new heights in her four year career in Evanston.

Skye Swann, Reporter

Women’s Basketball

In her four years as a Wildcat, senior guard Lindsey Pulliam has broken boundaries, pushing the entire program to new heights — including a Big Ten Championship last season.

The Silver Spring, Maryland native has been setting records since she first stepped foot on the basketball court, when she was five years old in a developmental league playing against boys in the DMV area. From the minute she went onto the court, Pulliam knew “she loved playing basketball.”

“I want to be the best that I can be and do whatever I can to help my team win,” Pulliam said. “I want to set an example everyday and find the positives in everything.”

She joined an Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball team to grow her game. In high school, Pulliam was named WCAC co-Player of the Year, Montgomery Private Schools Player of the Year, and ranked #60 in 2017 ESPN Top 100.

Although she received offers from Top Ranked Division 1 programs in the Power 5 conferences, Pulliam chose Northwestern because of the opportunity “to have an impact as soon as (she) stepped on campus.”

“I came on my visit and immediately felt the family environment,” Pulliam said. “I knew this is where I want to be and where people want the best for me on and off the court.”

As a freshman, Pulliam led NU in scoring with 15 points per game — thirteenth in the Big Ten — and shot 81.8 percent from the free throw line, the third best mark in the conference for 2017-2018 season.

She continued expanding her game as a sophomore, becoming the fastest Northwestern player ever to reach 1,000 career game points and finishing third in total points in the entire Big Ten Conference. Pulliam reached double digits in 34 out of 36 games, an impressive feat for any collegiate athlete, let alone a sophomore.

The standout moment in her NU career was winning the Big Ten Championship last season before the pandemic abruptly ended the season. She described the experience as “a wow moment.”

Pulliam said it was surreal holding the trophy with her teammates in a packed Welsh-Ryan Arena after defeating rival Illinois. It was a moment she and the team had been working toward since freshman year.

Pulliam also said she has become a better leader and teammate. Despite the challenges faced this season against top teams in the Big Ten, Pulliam always employs the same mindset: Keep moving forward and learning from the game.

Her greatness also comes from the support by her teammates, including junior guard Veronica Burton. Burton and Pulliam have been the key leaders of the team this season, rising to the occasion against top teams in the conference.

“When she’s on fire you got to feed her the ball and that’s a goal of mine,” Burton said of Pulliam’s dynamic shooting. “She’s able to get off some very difficult shots.”

Pulliam’s shooting has been a key component to Northwestern’s offense every year she’s been here. She likes to “practice before practice” to work on her craft, perfecting her signature pull-up jumper.

Even when she’s not scoring, Pulliam is one of the key contributors to the offense, often assisting her teammates and driving down the lane for the easy pass. As a leader, she wants “to keep her teammates motivated” throughout games and “play her best.”

Coach Joe McKeown has long known about Pulliam’s brilliance, calling her “one of the best players in the Big Ten.”

“I feel really lucky to coach Lindsey Pulliam,” McKeown said. “I am really proud.”

In her senior year, Pulliam’s eyes are set on securing another Big Ten Championship and an invitation to the Women’s National Invitation Tournament. She said the last couple games of the 2019-2020 season were not the best showing from the team. Going into this final postseason, she wants to establish the Cats as one of the top programs in Division I basketball.

Since she was a young basketball player, Pulliam knew her end goal “was to play professionally.” As her senior season comes to a close, she looks forward to what the future holds. According to WNBA mock drafts, she’s projected to be drafted in the first or second rounds.

“Coming into Northwestern I wanted to leave as one of the greatest to come through the program,” Pulliam said. “To know I’m doing things like that is really special to me and I got a lot more work to do.”

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