Women’s Basketball: Northwestern earns first conference win against the Badgers in epic fashion on the road


Daily file photo by Ziye Wang

Sophomore guard Hailey Weaver shoots a free throw. Weaver had a team-high four steals on Sunday.

Lucas Kim, Social Media Editor

Going into the second half as the underdogs, Northwestern fought back in a matchup between the Big Ten’s two bottom teams, coming away with a 70-67 win over Wisconsin on Sunday.

Entering the weekend, the Wildcats (8-13, 1-9 Big Ten) had not won a regular season conference game since Feb. 24 of last year. With the victory over the Badgers (7-15, 2-8 Big Ten), NU has now won back-to-back games since snapping its eight-game losing streak.

Fresh off a dominant 87-64 performance over Chicago State on Wednesday, the Cats looked to keep up their newfound momentum as conference play resumed. But the Badgers quickly put an end to that hope. 

After missing its first jumper of the game, Wisconsin went on a scorching 13-0 run, going perfect from the field on its next six shot attempts. A 10-0 run from NU quickly made the game competitive again, led by junior forward Paige Mott, who gathered four offensive rebounds in the first quarter alone.

Being held scoreless for more than five minutes, the Cats went down 36-20, their largest deficit of the game. The score stood at 39-26 at the half after NU went 2-of-17 from the field during the second quarter.

A jumper from Wisconsin’s star freshman Serah Williams put the Badgers up 15 to start the second half as the game looked more and more out of the Cats’ reach. 

But that’s when the momentum took a 180-degree turn.

It started with a Mott free throw. Then three more buckets coming off Wisconsin turnovers. Sophomore forward Caileigh Walsh hit two straight three-pointers, along with a layup to tie up the game at 41. Finally, sophomore guard Hailey Weaver made a fastbreak layup to bring NU its first lead of the game.

Though the Badgers ended the third quarter with an 11-2 run to bring the score to 56-50, the tenor of the game completely shifted from blowout to nailbiter.

Predictably, the match went down to the wire. Down 66-61 with 5:33 remaining in the final quarter, NU didn’t allow Wisconsin to make a single field goal attempt for the rest of the game.

Two layups from Mott –– supported by excellent defense on the other side of the court –– brought NU within one. A steal and fastbreak attempt by Wisconsin guard Maty Wilke threatened to extend the Badgers’ lead to three with just two minutes remaining, but the freshman missed the wide open layup.

Freshman guard Caroline Lau took advantage of the opponent’s error by splashing a three-pointer on the other end, taking the 68-66 lead. Lau had gone 0-of-4 on shot attempts up until that point.

Wisconsin had a chance to tie the game up on a trip to the line but only converted on one free throw, allowing NU to go back up the floor and extend its lead on two clutch free throws from sophomore guard Jillian Brown with nine seconds remaining.

Those free throws put away the game for good as the Badgers missed a game-tying three-pointer as the buzzer sounded.

Mott led the offensive charge for the Cats with a career-high 23 points and nine rebounds, six of which were offensive rebounds. This was Mott’s fourth consecutive game scoring in double figures.

Walsh added 18 points, hitting three three-pointers, all in the third quarter. Graduate student guard Sydney Wood –– who played all 40 minutes –– contributed 12 points, five rebounds, three steals and three blocks.

NU will look to keep up its winning ways against Penn State on Thursday.

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Twitter: @lucaskim_15

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