Northwestern (9-10, 2-3 B1G) found itself down and out during the second quarter, but a stirring second half comeback led by 22 points from Jordan Hamilton gave Northwestern a 69-60 win over Wisconsin (7-11, 0-5 B1G). The Wildcats were losing as late as with 5 minutes left in the game, but a stirring defensive performance earned Northwestern a win.
The Wildcats started the game well defensively, holding Wisconsin to 11 points in the first quarter. Hamilton had just 3 of her 22 points after the first 10 minutes, but she scored 7 in the second quarter and was off and running from there. Her efforts were not enough to make for some clinical offense from Wisconsin. The Badgers opened up an 8-point lead after a 14-5 run in the second quarter. Hamilton scored the next four points to bring Northwestern back, but Wisconsin was able to respond and exit the second half up 30-25.
Northwestern came out reenergized in the second half, chipping away at Wisconsin’s lead before finally taking the advantage back with a Hamilton jumper with 3:51 left. Northwestern’s defense kicked into gear and the Wildcats were able to extend their advantage to 46-41 before Wisconsin pegged them back to 46-44 with one quarter left. To start the fourth, Hamilton was able to continue her dominance with an old fashioned three-point play to put Northwestern up 5.
Wisconsin fought back and tied the game at 49-49 behind a 5-0 run from Marsha Howard. A few minutes and two lead changes later, Suzanne Gilreath, who led Wisconsin with 17 points, hit a three to make it 56-54 Wisconsin. But Northwestern scored the next 10 points of the game to seal an important win at Beardsley Gym.
Northwestern’s next game is against Purdue in a week in West Lafayette. The Wildcats are 2-3 in conference after two poor outings against Michigan State and Nebraska, but there’s time to turn things around. The Wildcats’ two first-year guards, Lindsey Pulliam and Jordan Hamilton, are definitely talented enough to keep Northwestern in some games. Beating a struggling Wisconsin team is a good sign for the future, but we’ll see if Northwestern can finally win back-to-back games for the first time since November.