by Callie Counsellor (@CCounsellor)
Northwestern posted its third-best offensive performance--and it's best of the conference schedule--to beat Minnesota, 70-63, Sunday night.
The Wildcats shot 52.1 percent from the field. Five players reached double figures, led by senior Kendall Hackney with 20 points.
The teams played back-and-forth basketball in the first half, as evidenced by their identical 48 percent shooting percentages. The Cats led by one, 30-29, going into halftime. Despite the strong shooting performance by both teams, NU (12-13, 4-8 Big Ten) held the Gophers' most potent player, sophomore Rachel Banham, to just five points in the first half thanks to strong defense from sophomore guard Karly Roser. Although Banham picked it up in the second half and finished with 19 points, she still finished below her Big Ten-leading average of 21.4 points per game.
Neither team built more than a four point lead until the 5:16 mark of the second half, when Roser hit a jumper to give the Cats a six point lead. Minnesota (15-11, 4-8) came within three in the closing minute but NU made 10 of 12 free throws to seal the victory.
NU will head to East Lansing, Mich. to take on Michigan State (19-6, 7-5) on Wednesday. The Spartans beat the Cats 67-62 on Jan. 31.