Erasing virtually all of the ills that plagued them Wednesday against Penn State, the Northwestern women's baseketball team (15-13, 4-12 Big Ten) walked all over Wisconsin (7-19, 3-13 Big Ten) 71-53, mowing down the Badgers in Madison.
Maggie Lyon began the game by missing a three from the left side, but Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah was left wide open under the hoop to grab the rebound, and she laid it in the give the ‘Cats a 2-0 lead.
After that, the Badgers were never able to tie the score again. NU led for all but those opening 22 seconds.
NU shot 52 percent in the first half, and headed into the break up 33-27. After a 11-2 run to open the third quarter, the ‘Cats really started to break it open. Lyon’s second three-pointer of the day gave NU its largest lead of the game at 61-40 with 6:33 left in the fourth. From there, the ‘Cats could coast, and the Badger seniors departed the Kohl Center floor for the final time in a 71-53 Wildcat victory.
After allowing Penn State to shoot 54 percent from the field, as well as 7-of-11 from thee-point range on Wednesday, NU limited Wisconsin to just 37 percent shooting, including 2-of-8 three-point shooting. Against the Nittany Lions, NU shot under 39 percent and lost the rebounding battle 37-23. Against the Badgers, NU shot just under 47 percent and won the rebounding battle 39-30.
Four Wildcats ended the day in double-figure scoring, led by Lyon’s 18 points on 54 percent shooting. Nia Coffey was dominant as usual, picking up 15 points as well as 11 rebounds, celebrating her selection to the John R. Wooden Award Late Season Top 20 List with her 15th double-double of the season. Kunaiyi-Akpanah had one of the better games of her debut season, collecting 10 points and a game-high 14 boards, eight of which came on the offensive glass. It was the second double-double of the season for the freshman, adding to a resume that continues to look more impressive as she gains experience.
Lyon finished with nine boards to go with her point total, leaving her one shy of a double-double herself. Christen Inman added in 10 points, while Ashley Deary added nine points, as well as two rebounds and two assists. The rout even allowed head coach Joe McKeown to dip into his bench, giving sparingly-used seniors Christen Johnson and Nof Kedem a little playing time.
On Senior Day in Madison, it was only fitting that the Badger seniors turned in their team’s best performances. Michala Johnson put up 11 points and six rebounds in the first half, but was limited to just two points and three boards in the second. Conversely, Nicole Bauman came alive in the second half, scoring nine of her 13 points after the halftime break. Dakota Whyte averages 13.3 points per game and was coming off a career-high 31-point outbreak against Illinois, but NU held her to just eight points on 27 percent shooting.
The ‘Cats will need to keep the momentum up in their final two games of the season if they want to improve their position in the Big Ten Tournament and help their chances of sneaking into the WNIT. Up next for the ‘Cats is a date with Michigan on Feb. 23 before a matchup with Nebraska in Lincoln on Feb. 28.