With something to prove following last week’s excruciating pair of losses, Northwestern (10-7, 3-3) rolled into Bloomington on a mission. Despite their ranking, Indiana (15-3, 3-2) didn’t do much to slow them down. The Wildcats, who opened the game with an 18-7 spurt, controlled all 40 minutes for an important 75-69 win.
Joe McKeown emphasized the importance of a quick start following early deficits against Purdue and Michigan, and his team delivered on Wednesday. Holding Indiana without a field goal for nearly the first five minutes, the Wildcats created and kept an early lead, peaking at 28-13 early in the second quarter. The Hoosiers began to heat up near halftime, but Veronica Burton’s hot shooting kept Northwestern’s advantage at double digits heading into the break.
Burton closed the contest with five threes, nailing four in the first half, and a career-high 19 points. But while the first half belonged to Burton, Lindsey Pulliam owned the final 20 minutes. The sophomore, who has scored in double digits in her last 16 games, tallied a season-high 27, with 18 coming in the second half and 11 on free throws. As Indiana threatened, closing the gap to single digits in the third quarter and two possessions late, Pulliam had an answer every time.
Quietly, Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah put up her 30th career double-double, tallying 11 points and 11 rebounds to spearhead an impressive Northwestern effort on the glass. The Wildcats, who have been middle-of-the-pack in the stat during conference play, out rebounded Indiana 42-29.
For the Hoosiers, Ali Patberg led the way with 22 points and six assists. Sydney Wood and Bryana Hopkins each pitched in six points for Northwestern.
The Wildcats return home to take on Wisconsin on Sunday in what should be a good chance to step above .500 in conference play against a perennial Big Ten bottom-dweller.