By Laura Vázquez David | @lauravazquezpr
Sports Capital Journalism Program
INDIANAPOLIS — The Northwestern Wildcats reached a quarterfinal of the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament for the fifth time in seven seasons by defeating Minnesota, 65-60, in the second round at Gainbridge Fieldhouse Thursday night.
Northwestern senior guard Veronica Burton, the three-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, led the Wildcats with 18 points, eight assists and three steals. Burton was held to 4-of-15 shooting, and missed the five attempts from beyond the 3-point line. But Burton made 10 of 10 foul shots.
Now the seventh-seeded Wildcats (17-11) will go head-to-head against the Iowa Hawkeyes tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. The match-up to see will be Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Veronica Burton vs. Big Ten Player of the Year Iowa’s sophomore guard Caitlin Clark.
Burton stated that this matchup “is good for women’s basketball. It’s an exciting matchup….she is a great competitor and I’m excited for it.” Burton finished her senior season with 16.4 points per game, 5.2 rebounds per game and 6.5 assists. Clark finished her sophomore season with 26.6 points per game, with 7.9 rebounds and 8.3 assists.
The teams split two games this season, both winning on the road. Northwestern coach Joe McKeown mentioned that one key piece of advice for his players ahead of Friday’s game is to “have fun, play hard. Try to understand what they’re trying to do and try to take them out of it.” The Wildcats made just 36.5% of their shots, and just 13% from 3-point range. But they outscored the Golden Gophers, 38-32, in the paint. Northwestern had 15 second-chance points and limited Minnesota to four.
The Wildcats had nine steals and scored 12 points off turnovers. Senior Courtney Shaw grabbed 11 rebounds to increase Northwestern’s record to 13-6 when she has 10 or more. Shaw scored 11 points, marking her eighth double-double of the season.
Graduate student Lauryn Satterwhite was held to 5-of-14 shooting, but scored 15 points for the Wildcats.
“It’s all about surviving,” McKeown said. “….This is why I recruited Lauren Satterwhite from Arizona and Veronica Burton from Boston and it was to play in March.”
The game had 19 lead changes and seven ties. Minnesota (14-17) had two chances to tie the score in the final moments. Junior forward Kadi Sissoko, who led the Golden Gophers with 18 points and 10 rebounds for her fifth double-double and second in a row, missed a 3-point shot from the left side with 13 seconds to play.
Sara Scalia’s 3-pointer from the right side, with six seconds to go, was blocked by Satterwhite.
“We make it,” said Minnesota coach Lindsay Whalen, “and we still might be playing in overtime.”