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Rapid Reaction: Northwestern’s offense heats up, ‘Cats rout Delaware 76-53

A Caileigh Walsh Game™ in more ways than one.

EVANSTON, Ill. — After a slow start offensively, the Northwestern Wildcats (7-3, 1-0 B1G) caught fire from the field, downing the Delaware Blue Hens (6-4, 0-0 CAA) 76-53 behind 43 second half points.

It was an all-around team effort for the Wildcats today. Caileigh Walsh led the way with 18 points, with Veronica Burton trailing close behind with 17 points, six assists and four steals. Melannie Daley and Laya Hartman also finished in double figures with 12 points each.

Before the game got started, it was announced that Lauryn Satterwhite, Jillian Brown and Sydney Wood would not play for Northwestern. Meanwhile, Delaware’s Jasmine Dickey, who leads the NCAA in points per game, was ruled out before tip off, as well.

The Blue Hens got the scoring going this afternoon on a 17-foot mid-range jumper from Tara Cousins. The Wildcats followed up on the next possession, with Burton slicing her way to the rim, drawing a foul and sinking a layup. She converted the and-one to make the score 3-2 in favor of the ‘Cats.

Both teams came out cold early on. After that Burton score, the teams went on a three-minute scoring drought before Cousins added a three. With just under five minutes left in the first quarter, Walsh hit a three of her own, ending a near five-minute drought for NU. At the under five media timeout, Northwestern was shooting 2-for-13, Delaware was shooting 3-for-13 and both teams had combined for five missed layups.

Coming out of the timeout, the Wildcats began to heat up. They scored two quick buckets on layups from Melannie Daley and Walsh, and after another missed shot from the Blue Hens, Laya Hartman nailed a layup of her own. Burton scored again at the rim with just three seconds left in the quarter to make it 15-7 at the break. NU ended the first 10 minutes of action on a 9-0 run.

To open the second quarter, Delaware got on the board via a Tyi Skinner jumper to score its first points in nearly six minutes. Paige Mott followed up with her first points of the game from the post. From there, both teams scored back-and forth-periodically. The ‘Cats sent Delaware into the bonus with 6:05 left in the second quarter, but that did not impact the game much.

With just under five minutes to go in the half, the Wildcats extended their lead to 11 when Walsh landed a monster block on UD’s Makayla Pippen, which led to a transition three from Burton. The Blue Hens then took timeout with 4:39 to go.

After the break in action, Walsh continued her hot start, adding another three to get her to 10 points on the game. The scoring picked up significantly in the last few minutes of the first half, with Northwestern pushing its lead to 32-15. By halftime, the score had hardly changed, with the ‘Cats leading 33-16.

As the second half began, the Wildcats got the scoring started on a layup by Burton. Delaware’s Jewel Smalls followed that up with her first three of the year. The scoring continued to go back and forth and play kept at a fast pace, with turnovers plaguing each team. When Northwestern took timeout with 5:29 left in the third quarter, it still led 39-26, but had turned the ball over four times already in the second half.

As the third quarter began to wind down, and the Blue Hens kept fighting. After the ‘Cats extended their lead to 18 points, Smalls hit another three — her third of the quarter — to cut Northwestern’s lead down to 15. At the end of the third quarter, however, the Wildcats remained in control with a 20-point lead.

To begin the fourth quarter, Walsh came out hot once again, converting the Wildcats’ first two shots into five points and pushing her game total to 18. Hartman added a three soon after to get into double digits for the first time this season. All of a sudden, Northwestern seemed to be hitting every shot, and it soon led by 28.

After Delaware took timeout, Hailey Weaver checked in for the ‘Cats, logging her first action of the day. From that point on, Northwestern largely went into cruise control. A wild sequence where Walsh continued to foul and get fouled by Pippin led to Walsh fouling out with around five minutes left. Delaware then went on a 7-0 run in a minute, leading to a timeout by Joe McKeown.

It was far too little too late for the Blue Hens, though. Following the timeout, the Wildcats kept the pressure and their lead remained above 20 points. As time wound down, NU closed it out, winning 76-53.

Northwestern returns to action on Wednesday, Dec. 14, when they take on UW-Milwaukee at 7:00 p.m. CT on Big Ten Plus.