After its first win in over a month, Northwestern traveled to the call center to face Wisconsin State in a battle for the bottom two teams in the Big Ten. The Wildcats (8-13, 1-9 Big Ten) didn’t have it easy, but they beat the Badgers (7-15, 2-8 Big Ten) 70-67.
NU looked most likely to grab their first conference victory, but the first three minutes of play weren’t enough. Wisconsin surged to his 13–0 lead, scoring five consecutive field goals before coach Joe McKean called the first timeout.
The veteran coach likely had a big spark during the hiatus, and his team’s intensity rose a few notches afterward.
On the Cats’ first possession after a timeout, junior forward Paige Mott missed an inside layup but grabbed his board and pulled a shooting foul. Mott hit both free throws and NU was on the board.
The Cats pushed the Badgers to five turnovers in the first quarter, and Mott’s eight points in the first quarter put the team back within five points after ten minutes. However, his goal conversion rate of 25% on the field hampered NU’s progress despite constant defensive pressure.
As the second frame began, the shooting struggle in the first quarter worsened. The Cats shot his 1-of-8 from across the arc in the first period, and the team missed all four of his 3-pointers in the second quarter.
“We’re not the Golden State Warriors,” McKean said of his team’s three-point ability after Wednesday night’s win over Chicago State.
NU received a large production run from freshman guard Caroline Lau and sophomore forward Kaylee Walsh. It was a win on Wednesday, but 1-of-11 shooting in the first half Sunday held it to just 5 points total.
The shot didn’t live up to the team’s usual standout.The Cats made only two of 17 field goals in the second quarter. It proved the difference between the two teams as they finished 39-26.
The Badgers opened the scoring in the second half, but NU quickly turned the tide with a string of points in the paint. Suddenly, with the Cats on fire, Walsh hit his 3-pointer in his first two of the contest.McKeon’s team forced him to make six turnovers in his three minutes and mounted a 17-0 run. NU retained their first lead in the contest after sophomore guard Hailey Weaver sank a layup.
Director Marisa Moseley of Wisconsin I chose not to consume the timeout, but the media timeout stopped the onslaught inexorably. Both teams traded batting as the quarter progressed, with Walsh extending his points total to 18. Led by Serra Williams, the Badgers picked up momentum and held a 56-50 lead going into the final period.
Williams opened the final frame with a jumper, but the freshman forward fell awkwardly on the ensuing Wisconsin possession and headed into the tunnel. Williams later returned after receiving treatment for his ankle.
Mott kept the contest to within one possession, with 21 points and less than five minutes played. She then drilled a layup back before her breather to bring her game back within a point of hers.
Missing the first four shots from the field and the first three long-range jumpers, Lau chose the perfect moment to find her form. The Connecticut native found space in the corner and popped across the arc. Closing out a 7-0 run, the Cats came back 68-66 with less than two minutes remaining.
Both sides knocked down shots from the field in the final minute, with Walsh picking up his fifth and final foul as he contested Wisconsin guard Avery LaBarbera in the paint. Lavarbera converted the first shot from the line but missed the second.
The Badgers fouled their way to the bonus, sending sophomore guard Gillian Brown to the line. The Michigan native made both shots, and his 3-pointer on the other side of La Vera rattled off the rim, securing NU his first conference victory of the season.
The Cats are looking to continue their winning streak when they visit Penn State (12-9, 3-7 Big Ten) Thursday night.
Email: [email protected]
— Women’s Basketball: Youngsters shine as Northwestern loses eighth straight
— Women’s Basketball: The Northwestern Snap snapped a losing streak with an 87-64 victory over Chicago State University.
— Women’s Basketball: Epstein: Northwestern’s defensive scheme gives No. 21 Illinois everything it can handle