Lindsay Pulliam hits 2,000 career points, leads Northwestern to first NCAA Tournament win since 1993


Daily file photo by Joshua Hoffman

Lindsey Pulliam celebrates after sinking a shot against Illinois. Playing in her first career March Madness contest against UCF, Pulliam scored 25 points and grabbed three rebounds.

Greg Svirnovskiy, Sports Editor

In the dying seconds of the third quarter in No. 7 Northwestern’s NCAA Tournament opening matchup against No. 10 UCF, senior guard Lindsey Pulliam found herself with the ball. It seemed like a wasted possession.

But like she has so many times, Pulliam hit on a fadeaway, sinking to the ground as she took the shot. And then she watched. The ball bounced up onto either side of the rim before sinking fluidly into the net.

Armed crossed, chest out. And one. She’d sink the ensuing free throw, putting NU up 37-29.

“I was able to get into my fadeaway,” Pulliam said. “The ball just went in. And one. My teammates were hyped.”

Pulliam led the Cats to a 62-51 win over the Knights, scoring 25 points and adding three assists on 9-16 shooting, accounting for almost half of her team’s total points. The Maryland native also became the third player in NU’s history to reach 2,000 points.

Her buckets came in critical moments. A jumper two minutes into the first quarter ended a 6-0 scoring run for UCF. A minute later, Pulliam’s layup cut an early deficit to just four points, a gap NU closed by the end of the first frame of play.

Pulliam’s offensive prowess and her poise on transitions keyed Northwestern to victory in a game that was often played uphill. The Cats and Knights accounted for a combined 34 turnovers and NU sank just three of its ten three-point attempts.

But with the match all over, Pulliam walked off the court, dribbling out the clock and holding up one finger. This win was just the first. Pulliam was a major part of the Northwestern team that went to the finals in the WNIT two years ago. She was the star on last year’s squad, which won a Big Ten title for the first time in 30 years and looked to be a top-four seed in the NCAA Tournament before competition was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was a game that shouldn’t have been her first in March Madness. She wouldn’t let it be her last.

“I didn’t come here to play one game,” Pulliam said. “Now it’s time to focus on the next one. To get another win. That’s been my mentality. To just keep pushing and keep winning and just play as long as we can. I’m beyond confident. I’m taking us over anybody.”

Pulliam will have another chance to take the court in the Big Dance Wednesday against No. 2 Louisville. When she steps on the hardwood, she will add another milestone to her stellar Cats career: the 34th Big Ten athlete to score 2,000 points. She joins players like Nia Coffey and Anucha Browne.

“To score 2,000 points in the Big Ten, with everybody trying to guard you is amazing.,” coach Joe Mckeown said. “I think today we saw what she’s capable of and what she’d done her whole career for us. It doesn’t happen every day. To be in that company says a lot about Lindsey.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @gsvirnovskiy

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

Women’s Basketball: Northwestern’s lack of energy was the nail to the coffin in their disappointing 52-85 loss to Maryland

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