Women’s Basketball: Burton, Daley lift Cats to victory in road win over No. 22 Iowa


Joshua Hoffman

Freshman Melannie Daley shoots against Wisconsin-Parkside on Nov. 7. Daley had a breakout performance at Iowa on Thursday, scoring a career-high 22 points.

MaryKate Anderson, Reporter

After nearly three weeks of dormancy, Northwestern’s women’s basketball squad roared back into action. 

The team’s trademark “blizzard defense” came out swinging in Iowa City in their first matchup of 2022. NU (10-3, 2-0 Big Ten) ultimately took down No. 22 Iowa (7-4, 1-1) 77-69 in a quintessential team win. 

Until Thursday night, the Wildcats hadn’t faced anyone since their victory over Temple on Dec. 17. Multiple COVID-19 cases within NU’s program halted practices and forced a cancellation in its matchup against Oregon, and those versus Minnesota and Michigan State to be postponed. 

Despite practicing only twice in the last 20 days, the Cats solidified themselves as a Big Ten contender with their first win over a ranked team this season. The stars of the show were senior guard Veronica Burton and freshman guard Melannie Daley, a newfound dynamic backcourt duo. 

Coach Joe McKeown said he wasn’t sure how the team would play in their first game back, especially on the road. 

“I know (Burton) is not going to let anybody have a letdown as far as energy and attitude about playing and it showed tonight,” McKeown said. “I’m just really proud of the effort.”

Burton, the two-time reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the year, showed her finesse on both sides of the ball. She matched her career high with eight steals and was a major contributor to the 18 turnovers forced by the Cats, which proved crucial against the star-studded Iowa offense. 

Burton also showed her star quality on offense, ultimately scoring 25 points and finding her teammates for six assists. 

Though the nail-biting win could not have happened without Burton, multiple other players proved essential to NU’s operations — most notably Daley.

“(Daley) got hot early and I think it got a lot of confidence going,” McKeown said. “She’s a dynamic scorer, we see it in practice every day…It was just good to see her not be afraid to shoot the ball.”

Daley showed off in the first quarter and beyond, finding a sweet spot just inside the arc and scoring 10 points in the first quarter and ultimately a career high 22 by the final buzzer. Daley displayed herself as a key second scorer in an offense that often relies heavily on Burton.

The big win came despite Iowa having the best and the most efficient scorers in the Big Ten — Caitlin Clark and Monika Czinano, respectively.

Iowa’s offense, like most other games, was headlined by the pair. The two finished with a combined 50 points, with Czinano finding much of her success in the paint and Clark notching 13 of her 30 points on free throws. But their impressive scoring was no match for the Cats’ confidence and poise.

Burton attributed the tough win to the trust the team has in each other, even after a long break. 

“We knew what needed to be done,” Burton said. “We knew that it was gonna be a tough one coming into Iowa on the road, with this type of crowd. But at the end of the day, we stuck together.”

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Twitter: @mkeileen

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