In their third road game in give games, the Northwestern (22-14) women’s basketball team continued their postseason magic with a 74-69 victory over James Madison (29-6) in the semifinals of the WNIT on Wednesday night in Harrisonburg, Virginia. The win over the Dukes was the fifth straight for the ‘Cats in the postseason tournament, and snapped James Madison’s 31-game home winning streak.
Forward Abi Scheid hit two free throws with four seconds remaining to lift Northwestern to the WNIT final after a late Dukes run cut the ‘Cats’ lead from 15 to three.
Sophomore guard Lindsey Pulliam led the Wildcats offense scoring with 16 points, but the team was very balanced with all five starters scoring double digits. First-year guard Veronica Burton led the team with 5 assists and added 12 points with her hot shooting night after going 3-4 from deep. Burton also recorded five steals in a great defensive effort. Northwestern jumped out to an early 14 point lead as the first quarter wound down.
Northwestern struggled rebounding the ball throughout the contest, pulling twelve less than the Dukes. However, Senior Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah was able to keep the Wildcats competitive on the glass and pulled in 11 boards. JMU came back to cut the lead to 32-27 at half.
In the third and fourth, James Madison kept up with Northwestern’s potent attack, but the Wildcats never let up after scoring first eight points of the match, never giving up the lead in a contest they controlled fairly easily. At the end of the game, the Dukes cut the lead to three after Dukes guard Kamiah Smalls hit free throws with five seconds left, but Scheid’s free throws gave the ‘Cats the win despite the late scare. The win gives the team their 22nd win of the season, a total they have only reached seven times in program history.
Northwestern will face Arizona on Saturday at 2 p.m. for a chance at the WNIT title.