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Rapid Reaction: Despite early foul trouble, Northwestern defeats Temple 68-58

The Backcourt Burglar was just two rebounds away from her first career triple-double.

EVANSTON, Ill. — It wasn’t pretty, but they got it done.

That’s about all that can be said after the Northwestern Wildcats (9-3, 1-0 B1G) outlasted the Temple Owls (5-5, 0-0 AAC) 68-58 at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

Veronica Burton led the ‘Cats with 12 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds on 4-for-15 shooting. Laya Hartman followed close behind with 11 points off the bench. Melannie Daley and Courtney Shaw added 10 points each.

The Wildcats rolled out onto the court tonight with a new starting five of Burton, Daley, Jazzy McWilliams, Caileigh Walsh and Shaw. Both Jillian Brown and Lauryn Satterwhite returned to the bench after being out due to a non-COVID illness and an injury, respectively.

Burton got the scoring going with a second chance layup about two minutes into the first quarter, but Temple quickly followed that up with a midrange jumper from Caranda Perea to make the score 2-2. From there, however, the offense quickly stalled, with NU shooting 1-for-10 and Temple shooting 2-for-7 as of the six minute mark. At the U-5 media timeout, the Wildcats were on a three and a half minute scoring drought and Temple led 7-4.

Coming out of the media timeout, Laya Hartman hit a three to tie the game at seven. The very next possession, she came up with a steal and hit Walsh down low with a nice pass, but Walsh was unable to convert near the rim and NU came up empty.

A few possessions later, Temple’s Mia Davis hit and converted an and-one to become the second player in Temple women’s basketball history to score 2,000 points. She put the Owls up 10-7 and was soon subbed out. Not long after, Paige Mott hit two quick buckets for the ‘Cats and tied the game at 11 near the end of the first quarter. Shaw added one final score to make it 13-11 at the end of the first quarter.

There was slow scoring again to start the second quarter, but Daley soon hit a mid-range jumper, then Mott took away an errant Temple pass that led to Burton finding Shaw for an easy layup to put NU up by four. Of note, the Owls could not stop fouling, with the Wildcats entering the bonus with about seven minutes to go in the second quarter.

The scoring continued to come in waves. After cold starts to the second quarter for both teams, Hartman added another three for the ‘Cats to make it 21-18. The very next play, Jasha Clinton sunk a three for the Owls to tie the game at 21. Northwestern added three more points before the media timeout off of a Mercy Ademusayo free throw and a fast break layup from Hartman.

As the half came to a close, the ‘Cats got into some foul trouble of their own. Ademusayo picked up two fouls in three minutes and Shaw picked up her third foul with two minutes to play. At the half, Northwestern led 28-24, with Hartman leading the way with eight points. As a team, the Wildcats had committed 11 fouls over the first 20 minutes.

The beginning of the third quarter was the opposite of the first half in terms of scoring. Daley got things going with a jumper from the free throw line, and the Owls added three on the next possession via a jumper from Clinton. The scoring continued with another Daley jumper, then another three from Temple’s Aniya Gourdine to cut Northwestern’s lead to two. Not long after, the Wildcats added two more quick buckets to extend their lead back to six. After yet another basket for NU, this time from Walsh, Temple was forced to take timeout.

Coming out of the timeout, scoring stalled significantly, with the Owls adding the only two points prior to the U-5 media timeout. As the third quarter began to wind down, Northwestern’s struggles continued, as the Wildcats went nearly three and a half minutes without scoring a field goal. They added some points on free throws from Satterwhite and broke their drought from the field on a layup from Burton, but ended the quarter shooting 2-for-10 from the field. However, the ‘Cats still led 46-41 after a buzzer-beating layup from Satterwhite.

To get the fourth quarter started, Northwestern kept its lead between the four and six points for the first few minutes of the final 10 minutes of action. Eventually, however, the Wildcats began to catch fire. Hartman nailed an and-one to push their lead to nine. After a layup from Temple, Kaylah Rainey hit a huge three to push Northwestern’s lead to 10 points — its first double-digit lead of the game — and force a timeout out of the Owls.

After Temple’s timeout, the ‘Cats fell back into another scoring drought. They went just over three minutes without scoring and allowed the Owls to cut their lead to six before Burton snagged a steal and turned it into a fast break layup. She was fouled on the play and she converted the free throw to push NU’s lead back to nine.

With just under three minutes to go, the Wildcats went into cruise control. Both teams scored back and forth, with the Owls cutting Northwestern’s lead down to six for one final time. From there, the ‘Cats fought off any final comeback attempts to win

Northwestern returns to action on Tuesday, December 21 against the Oregon Ducks for the Solstice Showdown. You can catch the action on Big Ten Network at 8:00 p.m. CT.