Maybe Caroline Lau should play with her hair braided in every game.
Northwestern (8-14, 3-8 B1G) snapped a five-game losing streak with a dominant 69-43 takedown of Wisconsin (10-11, 3-8 B1G). It was a stellar defensive showing for the Wildcats, who held the Badgers to just 25.8% from the field.
For the ‘Cats, Caroline Lau dropped a career-high 24 points on a perfect 9-of-9 shooting, including four makes from deep. She also contributed six rebounds and five assists. Caileigh Walsh added 17, while Paige Mott put up a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Serah Williams was Wisconsin’s only scorer to reach double figures. She notched 11 points and 11 rebounds on 3-of-12 from the field. Ronnie Porter and Brooke Schramek also added nine points apiece.
Lau darted through the lane for an easy layup for NU’s first points of the day, which opened the scoring. After a turnover by Sania Copeland, Lau got to the cup once more with a smooth hesitation dribble to make it 4-0. On the next two possessions, Walsh followed her own miss and converted a tough and-one to put the ‘Cats up by nine.
With 6:35 left in the first, Porter blew past Mott for Wisconsin’s first two points. Williams followed that up with consecutive layups to make it 9-6. NU coughed the ball up three times in 90 seconds, but the first media timeout briefly stopped the run.
After a few misses, Hailey Weaver sank her second attempt from the midrange to put NU up 11-6. With 2:13 remaining, Porter pulled up for a middie to make it 11-9, but Maggie Pina responded with a three from the right wing to expand the Wildcats’ lead to five. Following a clean dish from Daley, Mott flaunted her touch with a lefty finish to put NU up 16-9. The scoring run didn’t stop there, as Lau sank a rainbow three to inflate Northwestern’s lead to 10. In a frenetic first quarter, the Wildcats and Badgers combined for 13 turnovers.
Walsh got the second frame going with some fancy footwork, shaking Williams for a simple finish at the cup. On the other end, Daley swiped her second steal and Lau finished in close to put the ‘Cats up 23-9.
With seven to go in the half, Lau drew contact and hit both free throws to go up by 16. However, Wisconsin responded. Porter made UW’s first three of the day to make it 25-12, and a few more buckets drew the Badgers within 11. Following a corner three by Tessa Grady, Joe McKeown called a timeout to quell the momentum.
It initially seemed to work, as Lau hit Mott in stride with a bounce pass for a close shot out of the break to make it 29-19. But, Wisconsin cut the NU lead to six with two free throws from Williams and another layup from Porter. Not to be denied, though, Lau hit her fifth shot in five attempts to put the ‘Cats back up by eight going into halftime.
Lau led the ‘Cats in the first half with 13 points and three assists, but she coughed the ball up five times. Walsh wasn’t far behind with nine points and six rebounds of her own. NU hit 38.2% of its shots from the field, while Wisconsin mustered just 26.7% overall.
Entering the third quarter of action, Lau hit nothing but net on a three from the left wing to make it 34-23. Schramek finished over Walsh for the Badgers’ first points of the half, but Mott responded with a layup of her own. On the other end, Harter hit close shots in transition on consecutive possessions to make it 42-27 and force a Wisconsin timeout.
Out of the break, Mott slid to her right for a layup off the glass to put the ‘Cats up 17 and cap an 8-0 run. With 4:28 to go in the quarter, Mercy Ademusayo entered the game and immediately jumped on a loose ball. Several minutes later, Grady hit a corner three to snap the Badgers’ four-minute scoring drought, making it 44-31.
With 2:17 remaining, Lau stepped into her third shot from deep to put NU up 47-31. Another layup from Daley marked the ‘Cats sixth make in their last eight shots. Meanwhile, Copeland missed two free throws for the Badgers, who went just one of their last nine. Mott hit two free throws for NU’s last points of the quarter, putting the purple and white up 52-31.
To kick off the final frame, Walsh converted an and-one to balloon the Wildcats’ lead to 24. On the other end, Williams hit a shot at the rim, but Walsh responded with a layup of her own. After Lau converted her eighth shot of the day, Williams crumpled to the floor but limped to the bench under her own power.
With 7:22 to go, Pina swiped the ball and Walsh finished at the rim to complete a 6-0 run. D’Yanis Jimenez snapped the scoring streak with a tough make in close, making it 61-35. Three minutes later, Lau hit her fourth three, but Schramek responded with a deep shot of her own to make it 65-40. From there, the Wildcats closed out the game without much trouble. They secured their first two-game season sweep of Wisconsin since the 2020-21 season.
Northwestern will head back on the road to take on Illinois on Thursday evening at 6 p.m. CT. Big Ten Plus will broadcast the game.