Down by 11 in the second quarter, up by 10 in the third.
Northwestern (5-7, 0-1 B1G) came out strong in the second half to defeat Temple (6-6, 0-0 ACC) 72-68. This is the ‘Cats’ second straight win, after dropping six straight before facing Bradley on Sunday. The star of the show was Melannie Daley.
The junior scored 21 points, all of which came in the second half, and had four boards to propel the comeback. Junior Caleigh Walsh and first-year Casey Harter also chipped in 16 and 13 points, respectively, as well as seven and five rebounds. For Temple, junior Tiarra East, senior Rayne Tucker and fifth-year Aleah Nelson scored 20, 19 and 16 points. Tucker also had 13 rebounds.
Northwestern won the opening tip, but the ‘Cats were unable to score the first points of the game. On the Owls’ first possession, East made an easy layup, to which Walsh responded with a three.
Nelson and Walsh both added two points to give Northwestern a short 5-4 lead before Temple went on an 11-point run.
Sophomore Caroline Lau sank one of two free throws for the Wildcats’ first points in over three minutes and subsequently gave her team the motivation it needed. Paige Mott made a layup off an Owl turnover to make it 13-8.
Two missed Temple shots gave way to layups from Walsh and Harter to bring the ‘Cats within one, 13-12.
Senior Ines Piper halted the 7-0 sprint with a basket, but Harter soon evened the score at 15 with a three sparked by a steal from Lau.
With just four seconds left, East sank a three to give the Owls an 18-15 lead at the end of the first quarter. In just 10 minutes, the guard scored as many points.
Racing against the shot clock, a second-chance hook shot extended Temple’s advantage by five points to open the second quarter.
After a collection of missed shots and a media timeout, Tucker made a layup and East made one of two free throws to go up 23-15.
A layup from Mott gave Northwestern its first basket of the second quarter at 7:25.
Following four missed shots on a Temple drive and a failed Northwestern drive, Tucker added a layup to break the short scoring drought in which she garnered three offensive rebounds.
Head coach Joe McKeown called a timeout to answer another three from East that further put the ‘Cats behind, 28-17. In over five minutes, Northwestern managed just a single basket.
After three missed shots from both teams, Walsh ended the nearly five-minute scoring drought for her team with an easy layup, 28-19.
Suddenly, the double-digit deficit dwindled as a defensive rebound from Lau led her to add a layup and graduate student Maggie Pina made a jumper. Off a rebound, Lau ran down the court to add another shot.
Before the half ended, Rayne and Northwestern’s Mercy Ademusayo both added baskets, leaving Temple with a 30-26 lead.
Through two quarters, the ‘Cats and Owls made 46% and 30% of their field goals, respectively. Although NU managed just two baskets through the first half of the second quarter, it outshot Temple 7-2 in the last three minutes to make this game much closer than it seemed it would be for most of the half.
Northwestern began the second half by evening the score at 30 off baskets from Wash and Mott. Daley then made a jumper to give the Wildcats their first lead since being up 5-4 just two minutes into game action.
Piper evened it back up, but just seconds later, a pullup jumper by Harter gave the ‘Cats back their lead. This trend continued with Ademusayo answering a pair of free throws from Tucker, and then East answering Mott with free throws.
A jumper from Daley and free throws from Mott gave NU its biggest lead of the day at 42-37.
Eventually, Temple evened the score at 45 with Tucker making five points in just over a minute. But two free throws and a layup from Daley across 35 seconds put NU up 49-45 head into the last frame.
Daley’s hot hand continued into the fourth, making two free throws and a jumper between a Temple basket. She then added another shot to keep NU ahead 55-47 and make her 10th consecutive point.
Temple closed in on the lead with two baskets, answered by, you guessed it, Daley. Senior Tarryiyonna Gary then made a three, and, yes, Daley responded for her 10th point of the quarter and 14th straight Northwestern point.
Walsh and Harter both joined Daley on the scoring action, making it 64-54, and prompting an Owl timeout.
East made a three out of the break, and Nelson added another layup. However, two free throws from senior Jasmine McWilliams kept NU with a seven-point advantage at 66-59.
The Owls fought for a comeback in the last minute. It was 70-68 with just eight seconds left as Nelson made a three and was rewarded with two free throws.
Harter hit two crucial free throws before the clock hit zero to secure the 72-68 victory.
Northwestern will close out 2023 by returning to Big Ten play against Rutgers on Dec. 30 at 2 p.m. CT. The ‘Cats will look to win three straight in Evanston.