Rapid Recap: Northwestern 71, No.4 Michigan 69 (2OT)


Seeger Gray/The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern senior Veronica Burton dribbles the ball down the court against a Michigan defender. Burton recorded 12 assists and 13 points Sunday in double overtime against the Wolverines.

Skye Swann, Newsletter Editor

After snapping a two-game win streak with a nail-biting loss to Minnesota, Northwestern entered Welsh-Ryan Arena hungry to play No. 4 Michigan in the annual Play4Kay Pink Game.

The Wildcats (14-9, 6-6 Big Ten) held off the No.4 Wolverines (20-4, 11-3 Big Ten) Sunday, defeating the team 71-69 in two overtimes. In a collective team effort on both sides of the court, freshman guard Jillian Brown led the team with 18 points while senior guard Veronica Burton came alive in the backcourt with two steals and eight rebounds.

From tip-off, both squads played with energy and grit, going back-on-forth for points inside the paint. With Michigan’s senior forward Naz Hillmon being unstoppable inside the circle, NU’s defensive presence was critical in the first 10 minutes. Limiting the Wolverines’ second-chance opportunities, the Cats were able to keep the scoreboard at an even playing field, tying or leading the contest on multiple occasions. 

Despite Burton’s early defensive prowess, she was absent on the offensive end of the floor. She went 0-for-5 on her field goals, an unusual statistic for the senior. Fortunately, Brown found success on the floor, making layups and long-range shots to keep NU in the match.

Heading into the second quarter, the Cats got a reprieve on the defensive end of the floor with Hillmon leaving the game due to foul trouble. However, the remaining offensive unit played even harder, causing NU to get into foul trouble early. But the Cats regained their composure, tying Michigan when the halftime buzzer sounded.

At the start of the third quarter, NU still struggled to kick their offense into the next gear, playing timid and relaxed on the court. Burton remained scoreless in the game, despite recording 10 assists in the matchup.

With the Cats and the Wolverines being in foul trouble, both teams played cautiously, trying not to gain another foul. The entire third quarter consisted of both sides missing layups, forcing turnovers and making careless mistakes on the court.

Although Michigan grabbed the advantage at the end of the third quarter, NU had a chance to come back. Only down five points, the Cats had more than enough time to take back control of the game in the remaining 10 minutes of regulation.

Burton propelled NU back in the game, finally getting on the board with a wide open three-point shot to tie the game. But the Wolverines responded with a long-range shot of their own to put them up by three. 

But Brown responded quickly, hitting back-to-back second chance layups putting the Cats in the lead once again. With only a few minutes left in the game, NU had to remain strong on defense and avoid getting fouls inside the paint. 

The Cats slipped up in the last minute, sending Michigan to the foul line with 7.2 seconds in regulation. With the game tied, NU had to act fast if they wanted to avoid overtime. But Burton’s wide-open layup rimmed out of the bucket, pushing the Cats into overtime.

However, neither squad let up in the next five minutes, going harder on both ends of the floor to limit scoring chances. Only three seconds left in the first overtime, NU and the Wolverines were still tied signaling another overtime period.

Despite playing nearly 100 minutes in the span of two days, Burton didn’t let up the pressure in the next five minutes. She pushed harder on the offensive end of the floor and nearly recorded a triple-double in the game.

Burton’s last minute free throws handed the Wolverines a disappointing upset, highlighting the grit and intensity against one of the top teams in NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball.


  1. Veronica Burton’s struggles on the offensive floor hurts Northwestern early in the game

The senior guard has played a critical role for the Cats this season following the graduation of Northwestern guard Lindsey Pulliam. Still serving as one of the key contributors on the defensive end, the “Backcourt Burglar” has stepped up on the offensive end of the court tremendously, usually leading the team in scoring each game. Her shooting troubles in this game affected the team early against a high-attacking Michigan team. 

  1. Wildcats’ backcourt presence was critical Sunday

Battling against a well-rounded Wolverine program, NU’s defensive stance had to be on-point Sunday. And it was: the Cats played a high-pressure man-to-man scheme that gave Michigan challenges. Forcing 9 Wolverine turnovers, NU’s ability to keep their opponents to low-scoring opportunities kept the squad in the game. The Cats’ collective defensive effort stole the show in Sunday’s contest.

  1. Northwestern hits the road to face Indiana on Thursday

The Wildcats are back on the road Thursday to face Indiana for the first time this season. With only four games left before the Big Ten Tournament, these last few games for NU will be critical for postseason play. Even though the Hoosiers have a size advantage over the Cats, if the squad brings the same intensity on the defensive end as they did Sunday against Michigan, the Hoosiers will be in trouble.

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