Despite having a scare put into them on Thursday night in Milwaukee, Northwestern managed to pull out a win after forcing an extra session down the stretch.
Veronica Burton’s scoop shot with 4.6 seconds in regulation sent it to overtime and Lindsey Pulliam dominated the next five minutes, allowing the Wildcats, who blew a lead they had held all game long in the fourth quarter, to walk out of the Al McGuire Center with a needed victory.
Pulliam led the way with 18 points for the Wildcats despite shooting just 6-18, with nine of those coming in the extra period. Burton also struggled from the field, going just 4-14 and 0-5 from three, but the sophomore point guard managed 13 points, four rebounds, four assists, and a whopping six steals to help lead Northwestern to victory down the stretch.
The first half was largely uneventful, with the Wildcats using impressive interior play to offset team-wide struggles from the field, claiming a 13-9 lead at the end of one period and a 25-17 advantage at halftime.
Northwestern shot just 32.4 percent in the opening 20 minutes, but garnered eight offensive boards to Marquette’s two. Senior center Abbie Wolf stepped up with 10 points and six rebounds over just 13 minutes to lead the way, and she ended up finishing with a double-double (14 points, ten boards).
But as the second half began, things immediately got tight for the Wildcats. With the Golden Eagles continuing their offensive misery to open the third quarter, NU was continuing to control the game, but an offensive outburst led by Isabelle Spingola, a Chicago native who hit five threes in the second half alone, and Lauren Van Kleunen, who finished with 18 points, tightened things up.
Early in the fourth quarter, Marquette took their first lead of the contest, and from there the battle was on. After a late 6-0 run from the Wildcats gave them a 46-43 advantage, the Golden Eagles surged back in front behind buckets from each aforementioned forward.
With under a minute left and Marquette clinging to a two point advantage, Northwestern forced back-to-back turnovers, with the stifling defense that they had showcased in the first 20 minutes returning just in time for a series of key stops.
From there, Burton, who had gone to the line on two of Northwestern’s last three scoring trips, took matters into her own hands. After her crucial bucket, the Massachusetts native nearly won the game in regulation, stealing the ensuing inbounds after Marquette advanced the ball but failing to hit a last-second heave.
In overtime, though, it was the Pulliam show. The sophomore wing came out firing after offensive difficulties plagued her throughout regulation, scoring the first eight points for Northwestern, who never looked back en route to the comfortable eight point win.
No player besides Van Kleunen and Spingola reached double figures for the Golden Eagles, who turned it over a whopping 24 times on the day. Marquette was missing leading scorer Selena Lott, which certainly helped the Wildcats defensively, though they were without starting shooting guard Jordan Hamilton (she is day-to-day).
Abi Scheid added 11 points and four assists for Northwestern. All five starters played at least 37 minutes, led by sophomore forward Sydney Wood, who was in for a whopping 44. She scored just two points but led the way for the ‘Cats with 11 rebounds.
Next up, NU heads to Durham on Sunday for an afternoon clash with a very solid Duke team.