Women’s Basketball: Wildcats surge past Gauchos in second game of season


Angeli Mittal/Daily Senior Staffer

Senior forward Courtney Shaw holds the ball during the game. Shaw scored 12 points against the Gauchos.

Nicole Orejuela, Reporter

Women’s Basketball

Following a dominant win against Illinois-Chicago on Wednesday, Northwestern continued its strong start to the season with a 72-46 victory on ​​Sunday afternoon over UC Santa Barbara. 

The Wildcats (2-0, 0-0) dominated the Gauchos (1-1, 0-0) at Welsh-Ryan Arena, led by senior guard Veronica Burton’s team-high 20 points. Burton notched four of NU’s nine 3-pointers during the game and also tallied three rebounds and seven assists. 

Coach Joe McKeown called the four-year veteran’s decision-making “off the charts.” 

“Veronica came in old,” McKeown said. “When she was a freshman, she was like a senior.”  

UCSB forward Ila Lane scored the first points of the game, but the Gauchos couldn’t sustain their lead for long. The Cats went on a 21-2 run to end the first quarter, ensuring the outcome was never truly in doubt. 

Senior forward Courtney Shaw played a significant role in NU’s offensive run during the first, notching six points and four rebounds. McKeown highlighted Shaw’s offensive effort, saying she frustrated and stymied UCSB’s offense. 

“Our defense was really good against one of the better coaches in the sport,” McKeown said. “I think we took (UCSB) out of what they wanted to do on offense.” 

Shaw credited “hustle and playing hard” as a key reason behind the Cats’ success against the Gauchos. She also emphasized the role of transition plays and strong defense in kickstarting the team’s offense. And the numbers back her up —  NU scored 29 points off of turnovers and added another 17 fastbreak points against UCSB. 

The Cats’ performance on Sunday, however, showed room for improvement. NU maintained its commanding lead through the second quarter, but its pace slowed coming out of the half. The Cats never led by fewer than 14, but they failed to score for a period lasting more than three minutes during the third quarter. 

NU’s suffocating defense also waned to start the third, allowing UCSB to capitalize on four of the first six scoring possessions in the quarter. Shaw noted this change, saying the Cats provided the Gauchos new opportunities for shots they didn’t have in the first half.

NU rebounded late in the third, however, and regained its offensive rhythm to outscore UCSB 20-13 in the game’s final period. 

Moving forward, freshman starting forward Caileigh Walsh expressed her desire to “get into a groove offensively.” In particular, Walsh noted frustrations with her shooting splits, only converting on three of her eight attempts from three. 

NU will seek its third straight win Wednesday night at 7 p.m., when the Cats face Loyola, a North Side rival, at Welsh-Ryan Arena. 

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Twitter: @Nic_Orejuela12

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