Women’s Basketball: Wildcats secure a 70-58 exhibition win over UW-Parkside


Joshua Hoffman/Daily Senior Staffer

Senior guard Veronica Burton celebrates with graduate guard Lauryn Satterwhite during the Wildcats’ 70-58 over the UW-Parkside Rangers on Sunday. Burton finished the game with 14 points and six steals.

MaryKate Anderson, Reporter

Women’s Basketball

Northwestern returned to Welsh-Ryan Arena on Sunday to win its exhibition matchup against UW-Parkside — the Wildcats’ first game with fans cheering in the stands since clinching the Big Ten Title on Feb. 29, 2020.

The Rangers were unrelenting through the first half, sticking within striking range for most of the game and even showing a boost of energy coming out of halftime. But NU’s offense overwhelmed the Rangers in the middle of the third quarter with a 14-5 scoring run, and Parkside struggled to respond. From there, the Cats’ momentum carried them through the rest of the game. 

Coach Joe McKeown’s NU squad ultimately took down the Rangers 70-58, led by a team-wide offensive effort. Seven of the 10 Cats who participated in the matchup scored at least eight points, with three netting at least 10.

Despite these numbers, the team struggled behind the three-point line overall. NU went a combined 5-18 (.278) on three-pointers compared to the Rangers’ 12-28 (.429). 

Senior guard Veronica Burton led the team in scoring with 14 points, but the two-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year also showed her skills on the other side of the ball. Burton finished the game with six steals, three blocks and two turnovers.

Behind Burton, the Cats’ defense basked in the spotlight during Sunday’s matchup. While the team was able to execute — putting up 19 turnovers, 12 steals and seven blocks — Burton said there was still room for improvement. 

“I feel like this game shows a lot of areas we need to improve on,” Burton said. “We talked about communicating a lot on defense. We put a big emphasis on our defense, and that’s something that definitely got exploited a little bit today.”

The game also proved to be a prime opportunity for freshman guard Jillian Brown to show off in her first appearance with NU. Brown finished off the game with 10 points, eight of which came in the second half, along with six rebounds and five turnovers.

With five first-years on the roster going into the regular season, the young players should prove to be an essential part of the Cats’ success.

This was NU’s first competition since its 62-53 loss to Louisville in the second round of the NCAA tournament. After losing two key players in Lindsey Pulliam and Jordan Hamilton last year, the Cats hope the addition of Brown and other talented freshmen can help them crack their way into the tournament again.

“A lot of teams, a lot of people, the media think we’re going to have a huge dropoff after losing the players that we did last year,” Burton said. “But I think we have a chip on our shoulder, and we want to get back to the tournament.” 

Burton said the presence of fans can provide a strong energy boost to athletes and change the flow of the game, as has been the case with many other sports returning to campus. 

Women’s basketball fans were present in Welsh-Ryan Arena for the first time in 617 days after COVID-19 protocols restricted fan access to athletic events during the 2020-21 season. Alongside the return of fans, game day festivities have returned to the arena as well — which Burton said energizes the team. 

“We love the band, cheerleaders, the students, the student athletes, everyone that comes out and supports us means a lot to us and it just makes the game a lot more fun,” Burton said.

NU will return to Welsh-Ryan Arena Wednesday to take on the University of Illinois-Chicago Flames for its first regular season matchup of the 2021-22 season.

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Twitter: @mkeileen

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