Women’s Basketball: Northwestern’s Courtney Shaw steals the show on offense Sunday against in-state rival Illinois


Seeger Gray/The Daily Northwestern

Senior forward Courtney Shaw lifts in the air for a layup. Shaw recorded a double double, including a season career high 20 points Sunday in Northwestern’s win against Illinois.

Skye Swann, Newsletter Editor

Northwestern senior forward Courtney Shaw third in the Big Ten in rebounding — was in her element Sunday against in-state rival and conference opponent Illinois. 

Behind a season and career high 20 points, plus an additional 10 rebounds, Shaw recorded her sixth double-double in the Wildcats’ (15-10, 7-7 Big Ten) 82-59 win over the Fighting Illini (6-17, 1-11 Big Ten). The power forward dominated both ends of the court, showcasing her versatility on offense and defense. Arguably one of the best forwards to go through the program, Shaw went 10-for-11 on field goals, highlighting her strength inside the paint. 

“(Sunday) was one of (Shaw’s) best offensive games,” coach Joe McKeown said. “She got inside of Illinois’ defense and finished everything.”

Initially scheduled to square off in January, NU was prepared and looking forward to this matchup. In what is always a battle between the in-state rivals, the two squads entered the battle with high energy. 

Shaw made the first layup for the Cats in the first quarter to get the team going, boxing out the Fighting Illini defenders inside the paint. Her presence on the court played a central role for the team. With Illinois attempting to silence senior guard Veronica Burton, Shaw stepped up on the offensive end of the floor.

Going 2-for-3 on field goals in the first quarter, Shaw finished a solid first 10 minutes of regulation. She grabbed three rebounds and eliminated the Fighting Illini’s second chance opportunities, something NU struggled with against Indiana on Thursday. 

Shaw had a field day in the second quarter, leading the team with 10 points in the period. She was unstoppable on both ends of the floor, forcing five Illinois turnovers and hitting 100% of her field goals. As her team nearly reached a double-digit lead towards the end of the quarter, Shaw played a central role in the timeframe, denying the Fighting Illini chances to creep back into the game.

Standing tall as one of the Cats’ strongest forwards, Shaw has had a stellar breakout season. After suffering an injury in the middle of the 2020-21 campaign, she hit the court running since November. Playing against some of the toughest competitors in the Big Ten, McKeown said Shaw has held her own the entire season and has contributed to NU’s success on the court. 

“She got all over the offensive glass today,” McKeown said. “She’s playing really well. She picked a good time to play well.”

Heading into the third quarter, Shaw’s defensive prestige kicked into high gear, recording an additional three rebounds. Contributing to the pick and roll play, she assisted junior guard Laya Hartman’s offensive success beyond the arc and inside the free throw line. 

However, Shaw entered foul trouble in the quarter, earning three personal fouls against Illinois. With the potential of sending Illinois into the bonus, Shaw transitioned to a more passive role, facilitating the ball to Burton and Hartman to extend the Cats’ lead. 

For the remainder of the fourth quarter, Shaw stayed consistent on the floor and recorded six more points. McKeown said her efforts in Sunday’s contest were phenomenal, adding that her momentum has skyrocketed since her record-breaking performance against Michigan. 

With a few games remaining before postseason play, Shaw’s performance against the Fighting Illini foreshadows NU’s intentions to go hard at the Big Ten Tournament. Shaw, Burton and graduate guard Lauryn Satterwhite have played central roles the entire season and contributed to the team’s momentum on the extensive list of on the road games, McKeown said. 

“Veronica, Courtney and Lauryn have been through a lot in their career and understand how important these games are and how quick they come at you,” McKeown said. “I really leaned on them a lot and we will next week too.”

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