Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Women’s Basketball: Caileigh Walsh shines despite Northwestern’s loss to Michigan

Sammy Krimstein/The Daily Northwestern
Junior forward Caileigh Walsh smiles as she shines in Saturday afternoon’s matchup versus Michigan at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

Despite eventually dropping its 19th loss of the season, junior forward Caileigh Walsh’s lights-out shooting was a gift for Willie the Wildcat on his 77th birthday as Northwestern faced Michigan Saturday in a competitive battle to the finish.

Saturday afternoon’s matchup for the Wildcats (8-19, 3-13 Big Ten) was a big one as they played fierce Big Ten competition against the Wolverines (17-11, 8-8 Big Ten). But Walsh is no stranger to stepping up in big moments, and her performance in Welsh-Ryan Arena proved just that.

Although three-point shooting isn’t her typical forte, Walsh is shooting 33.3% from 3-point range this season, the best of her collegiate career thus far. Additionally, Walsh is having her best shooting performance of her career this year, shooting 45% from the field.

“To me, her best offensive weapons are when she can play inside out and she can get you on the block and score,” coach Joe McKeown said. “She can (also) step out and stretch the defense, and she’s starting to put more work in beyond the arc.”

Walsh entered Saturday with a season average 12.3 points per game, fresh off of a nine-point performance Tuesday night in Northwestern’s 25-point road loss to Nebraska.

After starting the contest down 7-0, Walsh sparked some energy for NU from downtown, hitting back-to-back triples to create a close contest in the first quarter.

Throughout the period, the ‘Cats answered each Wolverine basket with one of their own, entering the second quarter down by just two points.

Walsh continued to add to her hot shooting start by knocking down another 3-pointer midway through the second quarter, carving into the Wolverines’ hefty advantage, and giving the ‘Cats something to build upon. 

Her fierce shooting performance didn’t stop there, as Walsh got an and-one opportunity with just under four minutes left to play in the half.

Due to foul trouble, however, Walsh played just 10 minutes in the first half. She made the most of her time out on the court with 12 points on 3-of-4 shooting from 3-point range, catalyzing much of NU’s success. 

“It’s tricky because you need her on the floor but you need her to where she’s doing the things she’s supposed to be doing and she’s good at,” McKeown said. “Sometimes when you’re in foul trouble, you get a little tentative and maybe don’t defend (or rebound) at the level that we’re looking for.”

Despite not recording much in the way of offensive production after the break, Walsh continued to press defensively and cut into the Wolverines’ lead after a 17-0 run. 

Although the ‘Cats came up short in their attempt to take down a tough opponent in the Wolverines, Walsh’s production in her 23 minutes of play was a glimmering positive in a close-run defeat.

“I was happy for her today because I think she’s seeing, not just the work pay off, but the shot selection of taking good shots at the right time (pay off as well),” McKeown said. “And that’s always been something that we talk about.”

Walsh will hope to take more strides in the right direction Tuesday as the team’s home slate wraps up against Indiana. Next Sunday, Walsh will have a homecoming of sorts in her home state of New Jersey, facing Rutgers in Jersey Mike’s Arena.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @Gabriella_Egozi

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