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Rapid Reaction: Despite streaky scoring, Northwestern easily handles UCSB 72-46

The ‘Cats are 2-0, just as expected.

In a sufficient yet unresounding fashion, the Northwestern Wildcats (2-0) downed overmatched opponent UCSB (1-1) 72-46 on Sunday at Welsh-Ryan Arena. While NU built a strong lead on the back of an 18-0 run to close the first quarter, it failed to dominate to the same extent in the remaining periods, suffering lengthy scoreless stretches on numerous occasions.

Veronica Burton led the way again for NU, scoring 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting while notching seven assists and five steals. Courtney Shaw put up a double-double with 12 points and 11 boards while also grabbing five steals. Alexis Tucker was the leading Gaucho, recording 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the field.

The ‘Cats started slow early, failing to hit a shot from the field in the first two-and-a-half minutes of play and trailing 4-3. That said, the Wildcats shored up their defense for remaining the duration of the frame, failing to allow a point after the 7:05 mark. They picked up the offensive intensity as well, adding 18 points of their own to lead 21-4 at the end of the first.

The ‘Cats’ veteran leadership was evident early on, as Burton and Shaw led the way for their team with seven and six points, respectively, in the initial ten minutes of play. True first-year Caileigh Walsh also impressed, wracking up three rebounds and two blocks in the first frame while knocking down 1-of-3 three point attempts.

The second quarter was a different story entirely. The Northwestern offense was dormant for long stretches of time, and, in particular, failed to put up a point for two minutes and 56 seconds in the middle of the 10 minute period. UCSB capitalized on this scoreless stretch, building a 10-0 run that cut Northwestern’s lead, once as large as 20, down to 10.

The drought for the Wildcats ended courtesy of a Lauryn Satterwhite three-pointer with 2:44 remaining in the half. Satterwhite’s make sparked an 8-2 run for the ‘Cats to close the half, which left them just one point worse off than they were when they started the second quarter, leading 36-20.

The third quarter featured another lengthy scoring pointless period for the Wildcats, who, after putting up five points in the first 2 minutes of play, failed to score for another three minutes and four seconds. Once again, it was Satterwhite who ended NU’s famine for points, this time with an easy two-pointer down low to make it 43-27 in favor of the Wildcats.

NU continued to play impressive but not overpowering ball the rest of the way, building a 19-point lead at the end of the third quarter and further extending their advantage to 26 points when all was said and done.

The ‘Cats will be back at home on Wednesday, when they will take on local rival Loyola Chicago at 7 p.m. CT.