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Northwestern women’s basketball 2020-21 player reviews: Lindsey Pulliam

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NU’s third all-time leading scorer finished her college career on a high note.

Photo by Charlie Riedel, AP

From the moment that Lindsey Pulliam stepped foot in Evanston, it was clear that she was destined for greatness. Before her freshman season in 2017-18, Northwestern was in dire need of a new star following the graduation of forward Nia Coffey. Pulliam — a four-star guard out of high school — proved to be just that. She scored 18 points in her first game at Northwestern and shot 81.8 percent from the free-throw line en route to leading the team in scoring as a first-year.

Three years later, Pulliam has collected countless accolades, both on an individual and team level. She earned All-Big Ten First Team honors as a sophomore and junior and helped the ‘Cats to their first regular season conference title since 1990.

In her last year in Evanston, Pulliam showed out for the Wildcat faithful one final time, leading Northwestern to its first NCAA Tournament win since 1993 while earning All-Big Ten Second Team Honors.

Stats

The following statistics are courtesy of herhoopstats.com.

As the numbers show, Pulliam was a major part of Northwestern’s success this season, particularly on the offensive end of the floor. The Maryland native played a whopping 37 minutes per game and took nearly 13 two-pointers a game, both of which were among the highest in all of Division I basketball.

However, Pulliam was not very efficient this season. She shot just 36% from the field, 24.5% from long range and 66% on free throws, her lowest percentage from the charity stripe in her college career. She did score 15.5 points per game, good for second-most on the team, with some big scoring games to boot. Pulliam poured in six games of 20 points or more, including a 27-point performance at Iowa at the end of January.

Perhaps her most impressive scoring output of the season was the first round of the NCAA Tournament game against UCF, when she dropped 25 points on 9-of-16 shooting in a vintage “Pull-Up” Pulliam performance.

Shot Distribution

The following statistics are courtesy of herhoopstats.com.

Pulliam certainly lived up to her Pull-Up Pulliam nickname this year. A whopping 64.9% of her total scoring output came from inside the three-point line, often derived from her patented dribble pull-up jumper. Unfortunately, her reliance on that shot, which had varying degrees of success throughout the season, also led to just 0.83 points per scoring attempts and an effective field goal rate of 38.8%. It also did not lead to a lot of free throw opportunities, as only 16.5% of her points came from the charity stripe.

Despite her mixed shooting figures, Pulliam’s ability as a scorer and as a catalyst for team offense should not be understated. The guard had the highest usage rate on the team at 26.1%, which is representative of how involved she was on the offensive end of the court.

The Good

Pulliam’s scoring prowess is the most notable and impressive part of her game, and it’s a big part of the reason why she’s such a highly-touted WNBA Draft prospect. While her scoring output took a hit from her figure of 18.8 points per game last year, her ability to create her own shot and score from anywhere on the floor was a key factor of Northwestern’s success this season. Even when her shot wasn’t on, the amount of defensive attention that she received from other teams helped open up the floor for her teammates.

As a defender, Pulliam didn’t stuff the stat sheet with steals like her backcourt partner Veronica Burton, but nonetheless she was an integral part of the Blizzard defense. She defended well on-ball and could generally be trusted with any assignment that she was tasked with.

The Bad

The main flaw in Pulliam’s game this year was her inconsistency shooting the basketball. While she had the ability to score in bunches, she also forced shots at times and could go cold for long stretches. This was on display in Northwestern’s season-ending loss to Louisville, when she scored just four points on 1-for-11 shooting. It didn’t help that opposing teams always gave her increased defensive attention, but Pulliam will need to become more consistent as an all-around scorer in order to find success at the next level.

The Bottom Line

Pulliam leaves Evanston as a legend and one of the program’s greatest players of all-time. In her four years, she helped to establish Northwestern as a conference powerhouse and a force to be reckoned within the Big Ten. She will leave a big hole to be filled, not just as a player, but as a leader both on and off the court. Pulliam’s next stop is the WNBA, as she will almost certainly have her name called in the upcoming draft this Thursday.