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Rapid Reaction: Northwestern wins thriller over Nebraska, 60-56

The ‘Cats overcame an abysmal shooting performance to gut out a big win.


EVANSTON — For the second game in row, No. 19 Northwestern (22-3, 12-2 B1G) overcame all types of adversity to pull out a well-earned Big Ten win.

The ‘Cats defeated the Nebraska Cornhuskers (16-10, 6-9 B1G) 60-56 thanks to late-game composure and yet another stellar performance from Veronica Burton.

The sophomore guard led all scorers with 21 points, three rebounds, two assists and shot a perfect 9-for-9 from the charity stripe.

Jordan Hamilton and Abi Scheid were also major contributors to the action. NU’s sixth-man finished with 10 points, four assists, two steals and a few crucial plays down the stretch to help the ‘Cats secure the win. The senior captain added with 9 points and 5 rebounds.

Northwestern overcame a lid on the rim all day, shooting just 28 percent from the field and 31 percent from three. For the second game in a row, Lindsey Pulliam struggled offensively. She finished the day with 9 points on 1-of-13 shooting from the field but shot 7-for-8 from the line.

Despite finding some solid looks early on, Northwestern’s shots wouldn’t fall. An early-quarter scoring drought allowed Nebraska to take an 8-5 lead and maintain that lead for most of the quarter. However, the ‘Cats brought out their swarming press later in the period and shifted the momentum. They gained a five-point lead after scoring seven straight, and, in typical Northwestern fashion, defensive success led to improved play on offense.

However, the Huskers went on a 4-0 run as the first quarter concluded, and they continued to build on it, regaining the lead in the early minutes of the second quarter. Nebraska scored five unanswered points to open the quarter, forcing a Joe McKeown time out, but the ‘Cats were resilient, fighting back to close the gap.

Big plays from Burton and Scheid helped bring the their team within one of Nebraska, but while Northwestern was doing a lot of the right things, Nebraska was shooting the ball much more efficiently than the ‘Cats, converting 20 percent more shots than NU did. Nebraska led 33-29 at the half.

Nebraska opened the second half on another run, extending its lead to nine — the largest of the day for the Huskers. After a four minute scoring drought for the ‘Cats, Burton converted on her third three-point play of the day, and Hamilton hit a deep corner triple to cut the deficit to three and spark some offensive momentum.

Nebraska kept NU at arm’s-length for most of the quarter, but a key turning point came with under a minute to play. A technical foul on Nebraska’s Kate Cain for taunting Sydney Wood led to two Burton free throws that cut the lead to 44-42 at the end of the third, and Cain picked up her third foul via the technical.

The ‘Cats continued to battle in the fourth and finally managed to close the gap at the six minute mark. A step-back three from Burton gave NU the 49-48 advantage — its first lead since the end of the first quarter. However, the NU lead did not last for long as Nebraska found a 6-0 run to regain the lead.

While Nebraska maintained the advantage as the clock winded down, another corner three from Hamilton tied it up at 56 with a minute to play. With 20 seconds to play, Pulliam converted her first shot of the day, a fadeaway giving NU a two-point lead. On the other end of the floor, Hamilton earned a massive charge that all but secured the win for NU.

The Wildcats will host Rutgers on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. in their last home matchup before Senior Day.