Thanks to foul trouble and a late injury suffered by Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah, Northwestern (7-4) fell to Kansas (9-1) in the finale of the Duel in the Desert’s Desert Division.
Jordan Hamilton led the way for the Wildcats with 17 points and four assists and Lindsey Pulliam chipped in 14. Veronica Burton had an impressive all-around performance, finishing with 11 points, three rebounds, three assists, and four steals.
But with Kunaiyi-Akpanah limited to just four minutes after the first quarter, the Jayhawks crushed Northwestern on the boards 43-18. That whopping differential combined with some timely shooting to put the veteran Kansas squad over the top.
The Jayhawks’ first 15 points came on threes, getting them out to an early nine point lead which they would never relinquish. The Wildcats fought back, notably getting it within one early in the third quarter, but could never muster the run needed to take the lead.
Austin Richardson, Kylee Kopatich, and Jessica Washington combined for 55 of Kansas’ 66 points. The trio went a scorching 11-23 from beyond the arc.
Meanwhile, Northwestern struggled to score the ball efficiently. They shot just 25 percent from three and were only at a 33 percent clip from the field generally. Bigs Bryana Hopkins, Kunaiyi-Akpanah, and Abbie Wolf combined to go 1-10, all on shots from inside the paint.
In the end, despite impressive defense (they forced a typically put-together Kansas offense into 19 turnovers) and solid performances from the backcourt, Northwestern was unabe to overcome their front court disadvantages down the stretch. It’s their first setback with their newly healthy roster, and one they’ll need to put in the rearview mirror quickly with Big Ten play fast approaching.
After a week off, the Wildcats will take on Rutgers in Piscataway next Friday to begin conference play.