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Women’s basketball: Northwestern smokes Wisconsin 72-46

Thanks to an impressive all-around effort, the Wildcats got above .500 in league play.

Northwestern Athletics

In the midst of Sunday’s whipping wind and snow, Northwestern took care of business. The Wildcats (11-7, 4-3 B1G) used a dominant second quarter and an outstanding performance from Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah to dismiss hapless Wisconsin (10-9, 1-6) at Welsh-Ryan Arena, 72-46.

Kunaiyi-Akpanah put up a season-high 21 points, adding 15 rebounds for her tenth double-double of the season. The stud senior forward piled up three blocks as well. Meanwhile, Lindsey Pulliam continued her 17-game streak of double figures with 21 of her own. Bryana Hopkins, starting her third straight game for the injured Abi Scheid, chipped in a career-high six assists.

The Wildcats started slowly, allowing the Badgers to turn around their typically subpar offense en route to a 15-7 lead with three minutes left in the first quarter. But from there, the Northwestern defense stiffened considerably.

Over the next 9.5 minutes, Wisconsin failed to score even once. During that time, they were 0-of-12 from the field with four turnovers, allowing the Wildcats to go on a 15-0 run (including eight straight Pulliam points) that changed the outlook of the game for good. At halftime, Northwestern led 28-17, and they never looked back.

The Badgers threatened once or twice in the third frame, bringing the deficit to single digits, but never truly got too close for comfort. A 24-point Northwestern fourth quarter closed them out decisively, ballooning the scoreline to its final 26-point differential.

The Wildcats won comfortably despite just one made three, thanks in large part to their stifling defense: the Badgers shot a lowly 24.6% from the field and were just 3-of-24 from beyond the arc. Northwestern also out-rebounded UW 48-41.

Suzanne Gilreath and Marsha Howard each had 11 for Wisconsin, with the latter adding nine boards. For the Wildcats, Jordan Hamilton pitched in 11 and four assists.

Northwestern will hope to continue their two-game winning streak on Thursday, when they travel to face 9-9 Nebraska.