Northwestern women’s basketball is back, and they mean business. After a thrilling season-opening win at Green Bay (0-2), Northwestern (2-0) posted a dominating win on Sunday in an upset win over No. 21 Duke (0-1).
Despite modest expectations coming into the year, Northwestern has shown considerable talent on both sides of the ball. The team’s leader thus far has been Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah, posting two double-doubles, including 17 points in the Green Bay win and 17 rebounds in the Duke win. The team has also enjoyed strong starts in the first week of action from Lindsey Pulliam (30 points, 13-14 FT) and Jordan Hamilton (27 points, five steals).
On Tuesday, the Wildcats underperformed for most of the game at Green Bay. The ‘Cats shot just 35.8 percent from the floor and 26.3 percent from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, the Phoenix shot 8-14 from deep en route to a 55-47 lead with 2:29 remaining.
Rather than folding, the ‘Cats pulled out a comeback for the ages. Kunayi-Akpanah hit one of two free throws and promptly hit a layup on the ensuing possession. Then, with 1:02 remaining, Sydney Wood hit a three to cut the Green Bay lead to two. Northwestern then capitalized on Green Bay’s mistakes, scoring the final four points on four free throws from Hamilton (nine points, five assists), Pulliam and Abi Scheid.
On Sunday, Northwestern needed no drama in a convincing 84-58 win against a solid Duke team. The Wildcats never trailed in the game and had a balanced scoring attack, with double-digit points from Pulliam (21), Hamilton (18), Scheid (18) and Kunaiyi-Akapunah (11).
The ‘Cats set the tone early in the first quarter, racing out to a 15-9 lead. Hamilton led the team with nine points, four assists and three steals at the half. Meanwhile, Kunaiyi-Akpunah pulled down an impressive 12 rebounds (five offensive) in the half to give Northwestern a 20-19 halftime advantage in the stat.
In the second half, Northwestern flexed their muscles to turn a quality win into a blowout that will certainly turn some heads in the Big Ten. Three-pointers were the story of the third quarter: Northwestern sunk five, including two from Veronica Burton (three assists, three steals). Pulliam led the way with 10 points in the third, while the team scored 15 points on 19 free throw attempts in the fourth.
Burton opens up the third quarter with a THREEEEEE. pic.twitter.com/vQ2a7u1gmB— #B1GCats Women’s Basketball (@nuwbball) November 11, 2018
Overall, Northwestern recorded an impressive 19 assists, 16 offensive rebounds and nine steals. The ‘Cats seem to be clicking on all cylinders and will look to build on the momentum when they host the UIC Flames (1-0) on Thursday.