Women’s Basketball: Veronica Burton’s explosive second half lifts Northwestern over Purdue


Alyce Brown/The Daily Northwestern

Veronica Burton eyes the basket against Penn State. Burton, who coach Joe McKeown said is an “incredible leader,” scored 26 points in the Wildcats’ victory over Purdue. 23 of those points came in the second half.

MaryKate Anderson, Reporter

Northwestern’s Veronica Burton is the best player on the court in any game she plays, according to coach Joe McKeown.

Burton, a senior guard averaging 17 points and just under four steals per game, made her presence known against Purdue on Friday afternoon, recording a whopping 26 points, six steals and six rebounds. She solidified the Wildcats (12-8, 4-5 Big Ten) as they snapped their four-game losing streak with the 80-67 victory over the Boilermakers (13-9, 4-7) in West Lafayette. 

“She’s our best player, and she’s our hardest worker,” McKeown said. “She comes in early, she stays late. She’s such an incredible role model for our young players.”

In the first 20 minutes of play, Burton’s performance was much less extraordinary: her three-point jumper just three minutes into the game was the last time she found the basket in the half. But NU’s presence in the post more than made up for it.

The Cats nabbed 24 rebounds through the first half — 10 on the offensive end — and scored 10 second chance points. Senior forward Courtney Shaw, third in the Big Ten in rebounding, outplayed Purdue in the frontcourt with seven first half boards. NU entered halftime with a 35-22 advantage.

“(Shaw) dominated the glass tonight,” McKeown said. “She just has that presence of going after every loose ball and every rebound.”

Despite her average performance before the break, the second half was Burton’s time to shine. 

It began, as it often does for the two-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, with a steal for a fastbreak layup halfway through the third quarter. From there, it was a picture-perfect game for Burton. 

Several more of her buckets were scored in transition. Two contested layups turned into three-point plays. Drawn fouls became free throws. Burton ultimately went 8-for-9 from the field and tallied 23 points in the second half, the most points for any Cat in one half this season. 

McKeown lauded Burton’s playmaking ability, acknowledging her importance in “getting people the ball in the right places.”

NU’s best offensive performance of the season was made possible by the well-distributed scoring throughout the team. Four players notched more than 10 points: Burton, graduate guard Lauryn Satterwhite, junior guard Laya Hartman and freshman forward Caileigh Walsh.

Friday’s contest was originally set to be played on Thursday but was postponed due to inclement weather. For various reasons, the Cats have fallen victim to multiple rescheduled games this season, resulting in tough stretches in their schedule.

“It’s hard to get your mojo going, especially when you have a young team,” McKeown said. “So it was good to play tonight, we need to play games … A lot of things would throw you off, but I think our team handled it really well.” 

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @mkeileen

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