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WBB: Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah reaches 1,000 rebounds in disappointing loss

The center becomes the second Wildcat to ever achieve that milestone, but Northwestern fell to Nebraska.

Northwestern Athletics

Northwestern (15-12, 8-8 B1G) fell 71-64 to Nebraska (13-14, 8-8) at Welsh-Ryan Arena on Thursday night. The disappointing loss did came with a silver lining: in the third quarter, Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah accomplished a rare feat.

The senior center from Nigeria became only the second player in the history of Northwestern basketball to garner 1,000 rebounds. The milestone is made even more impressive by the fact that Kunaiyi-Akpanah had just 327 boards entering her junior season, thanks to starting only 22 games in her first two years with the program. In 2018-19, Kunaiyi-Akpanah is averaging 11.1 points and 11.2 rebounds per game.

Kunaiyi-Akpanah joined Northwestern basketball legend and current Las Vegas Ace Nia Coffey — who finished her career with an astounding 1,183 rebounds — in the four digit club. Coffey, the fifth overall pick in the 2017 WNBA Draft, played her final two seasons with Kunaiyi-Akpanah before becoming the highest-picked basketball player in school history.

Evan Eschmeyer, the only men’s player above 900 rebounds, has been relegated to third on the all-time leaderboard (he finished his career with 995 boards). Kunaiyi-Akpanah passed him during the fourth quarter of Northwestern’s loss to Purdue on Feb. 16.

After a fast first quarter, the Cornhuskers used impressive offense to extend their lead to 14 at halftime, with Kunaiyi-Akpanah missing swathes of the second quarter with foul trouble. She eventually found success in the second half, finishing with a game-high 19 points along with 13 rebounds.

But Nebraska got out to a 20-point advantage early in the third quarter, and never looked back. The Wildcats trapped 16 offensive rebounds to the Huskers’ five, helping earn them 16 more total field goal attempts. However, Nebraska shot 10-of-18 from beyond the arc, good for a lights-out 55 percent from three point land.

For Northwestern, Lindsey Pulliam finished with 14, but it took her 21 shots to get there. First year Veronica Burton added eight points, nine (!) assists and three steals without a single turnover before fouling out late.

Nebraska was led by guard Hannah Whitish, who also scored 19 points and added five assists.

The Wildcats will finish the home slate with Senior Night against Indiana next Tuesday, before wrapping up the regular season against Iowa next Sunday. From there, they will head right into the Big Ten Tournament.