Despite a tough, seven-point loss on Thursday, Northwestern (14-8, 7-4) ran roughshod over Ohio State just before Sunday’s Super Bowl. In the return of Abi Scheid (the Wildcats’ starting power forward), who had missed the last six games with an injury, Northwestern demolished the Buckeyes 76-59.
Thursday’s loss to Minnesota, who had lost seven of their last eight prior to Thursday after a 12-0 start, seemed to nearly derail blossoming tournament hopes. Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah had 14 points and 11 rebounds, and Veronica Burton finished with 13 points plus three each of assists, rebounds, and steals after her second-straight incredible third quarter buzzer-beater:
But Lindsey Pulliam, off for the second straight game, shot just 4-of-15 from the field for ten points, and the Wildcats never overcame their nine first quarter turnovers. Minnesota led coast-to-coast, and Destiny Pitts, who led all scorers with 19, iced the game with a huge three and made free throws down the stretch. (Auspiciously for Northwestern, Minnesota took down conference-leading Rutgers three days later.)
On Sunday, Northwestern told a different story. Kunaiyi-Akpanah recorded her fourteenth double-double of the year, adding four steals to 17 points and 13 rebounds. Pulliam got back on track with a 23-point outing. Though Scheid looked rusty, finishing with just seven points, she made a distinct impact as the Wildcats ran away with it.
Ohio State kept within shouting distance for the first half, but a few Jordan Hamilton buckets widened the Northwestern lead to 61-44 early in the fourth quarter. Then, after an Ohio State score, the Wildcats iced things fully with a 15-0 run.
Hamilton finished with 12 points and four assists. Freshmen Burton and Sidney Wood combined for a gaudy stat line: 13 points, 11 rebounds, ten assists, and five steals.
Next, Northwestern travels to College Park on Thursday for their toughest game of the season, and an opportunity for a statement win.