Women’s Basketball: Northwestern headed to NCAA Tournament for first time since 2015


Joshua Hoffman/Daily Senior Staffer

Joe McKeown speaks with his players on the sideline. Northwestern clinched a berth in the NCAA Tournament Monday for the first time since the 2014-15 season.

Drew Schott, Web Editor

Women’s Basketball

Northwestern is going dancing. 

On Monday, the Wildcats clinched a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the second time since 2000. Following a 15-8 season highlighted by victories over No. 11 Ohio State and No. 13 Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals, NU will head to Texas for postseason basketball. 

“Just wow,” coach Joe McKeown said. “Really excited for our players, for our staff and for Northwestern to be in the NCAA Tournament again. Just really proud of our team and the way they’ve handled the adversity of this year and stayed together.” 

The Cats earned the No. 7 seed in the Alamo Region and will open tournament play against No. 10 UCF. With a victory, the team will face the winner of the matchup between No. 2 Louisville and No. 15 Marist. 

NU is participating in the Big Dance for the first time since the 2014-15 season. Six years ago, the Cats were ranked as a No. 7 seed and fell to No. 10 Arkansas 57-55 in the Round of 64. 

The team was expected to be a top-four seed in last year’s NCAA Tournament after racking up 26 wins on the way to its first Big Ten Championship since 1990. However, the tournament was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I felt like we could have made a run to the Final Four,” McKeown said. “We just had that type of team chemistry. This team right now… they have a little redemption chip on their shoulder type attitude. And that’s why I like this team.” 

NU started the season ranked No. 17 and rattled off four straight victories before dropping two straight games to Nebraska and Michigan. The Cats rebounded by winning seven of its next eight conference games, losing only to No. 16 Indiana. However, back-to-back losses to unranked Rutgers and the Cornhuskers dropped the squad out of the AP Top 25. 

To end the regular season, NU fell to No. 8 Maryland 62-50 on Senior Day. But the team rebounded in the Big Ten Tournament, defeating Illinois 67-42 and upsetting the Wolverines by 16 points before falling to the Terrapins in the conference semifinals. 

After making the NCAA Tournament for the first time in her storied Cats career, senior guard Lindsey Pulliam — who is four points away from reaching 2,000 — is looking forward to competing in college basketball’s premier setting and adding more to her NU legacy.

“At any time, it could be my last college game,” Pulliam said. “(I’m) just taking that in and leaving everything I have out on the court. Going out and doing whatever I can and just establishing myself and just going out as one of the greatest to come through Northwestern.”

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