They say all good things take time. For Northwestern Women’s Basketball (8-14, 3-8 B1G), it took them almost a month to savor a precious victory once again.
The last time the ’Cats had won a game had been on Jan. 10 against none other than Wisconsin 74-69 in Madison. After five previous Big Ten losses, the ’Cats pushed through on Sunday afternoon against, you guessed it, the Wisconsin Badgers (10-11, 3-8 B1G). This time around, Northwestern won 69-43, leading with an impressive 26-point margin.
“We’ve been locked in all week, so I think we were able to translate that really well,” second-year guard Caroline Lau said.
After having lost against the No. 3 Iowa Hawkeyes (21-2, 10-1 B1G) 74-110 in a historic sold-out Welsh Ryan Arena on Jan. 31, the ’Cats were more than motivated coming into this game, looking to turn their luck around. The Wisconsin Badgers were also looking for a win as they arrived in Evanston, having been defeated by No. 12 Ohio State (19-3, 10-1 B1G) 49-87 on Feb. 1.
Both teams had their eye on the prize, especially on a day as inspirational as National Girls and Women in Sports Day, but as the game was underway, Northwestern proved to be a clear dominator.
Although Wisconsin won the tip-off, Northwestern was fast to mark territory at the beginning of the first quarter. Starting defensively well, they led a 9-0 run before Wisconsin was able to get itself on the scoreboard. Led by Lau, who would score a career-high 24 points, and third-year forward Caileigh Walsh, who would contribute her own fair share of 17 points, Northwestern knew how to be a threat for Wisconsin. Leading another run, this time 8-0, the first ten minutes would end with the ’Cats taking an early lead of 19-9.
The second quarter brought a little bit more action. Northwestern took advantage of Wisconsin’s turnovers, who committed 19 total throughout the game, and were up to speed to make crucial points. Two minutes into the quarter, Northwestern was leading 23-9, as the visitors struggled to reach double digits. However, this quarter’s main protagonist proved to be the rim, as it had no mercy for both teams, who both shot less than 30% from the field this period. Either way, a decent 24 points were scored – 14 for Wisconsin and 10 for Northwestern – and the ’Cats would secure a safe 31-23 score heading into halftime.
The third quarter brought shooting galore, with Northwestern scoring a cumulative 18 points, their highest in any quarter of this game. Lau started with a thrilling three-pointer, going four-for-four throughout the game. Fourth-year forward Paige Mott brought layups to the party, chipping in 14 points and 10 rebounds of her own. With a final quarter left to play, the ’Cats were in good shape making their way to victory with a clear 52-31 lead.
As the final quarter began to write itself into history, there were not many bad things to say about this Northwestern team as they wrapped up the game. They continued to rack up points consistently, not letting go of their momentum, and were enjoying themselves on the court. Meanwhile, the Badgers did not have many tricks left up their sleeve, as the game did not go as planned for them. Still, they proved to have talented players like second-year forward Serah Williams, who notched her eighth consecutive double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
In the end, it was nothing but applause and chants from supportive young girls in the crowd for the Northwestern Wildcats. With this win, they pull off a series sweep against Wisconsin.
“There’s a lot of games left in February, in the Big Ten, so [we] want to use this to try to get some momentum,” head coach Joe McKeown said.
Had ourselves a day — Northwestern Women’s Basketball (@nuwbball) February 5, 2024
Goodnight 'Cats! pic.twitter.com/HGmnq68mqy
Thumbnail photo by AJ Anderson / North by Northwestern