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    Northwestern Edged by Minnesota Down the Stretch, 54-48

    Feb. 16, 2014

    Northwestern Minnesota 54, Northwestern 48
    Welsh-Ryan Arena • Evanston, Ill. • Attendance: 6,719

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    EVANSTON, Ill. -- JerShon Cobb hit from up close, midrange, downtown and even on the ground, but a late offensive drought for the 'Cats allowed Minnesota to take down the Wildcats, 54-48.

    Cobb carried the offense with a game-high 23 points, while Alex Olah chipped in 10 points before going down with an ankle injury late in the game, but the rest of the team struggled from the field, hitting only 5 of 28 shots.

    "Our margin for error in this league is very slim," NU head coach Chris Collins said. "We're going to play close games...We need to find (ways) and I need to do a better job of helping guys manufacture points."

    Neither team got off to a hot start on offense, and the Cats led, 4-2, at the first timeout more than four minutes into the game.

    It wasn't long, though, before Cobb found his rhythm. He scored eight points in the next five minutes, with a three-pointer from Sanjay Lumpkin sandwiched in the middle to keep the Cats ahead by two.

    A few minutes later, NU grabbed its biggest lead of the game, 26-19, on a three-point bucket from Cobb, his third of the half.

    Cobb kept the team afloat on offense but it was a team effort on defense as the 'Cats once again showcased their hard-nosed, scrappy style. Midway through the first half, Lumpkin dove to the ground to keep the ball in-bounds. Kale Abrahamson got in on the defensive action when he sprinted from 10 feet out to grab a rebound under the basket. Even Cobb took a break from scoring long enough to knock the ball out of Minnesota players' hands twice--two of the Golden Gophers' 10 turnovers in the first half.

    Despite the solid defense, Minnesota took advantage of its limited possessions in the first period, hitting half of its field goals and four of seven three-pointers, including one with three seconds left to pull within three at halftime, 28-25.

    The visitors came out of the lockers strong and quickly tied the game at the beginning of the second half with a block, a basket and a free throw.

    As he did in the first period, Cobb took over on offense and hit a pair of three-point buckets, including one as he was falling to the ground.

    Minnesota kept pace, though, and found a bit more space on offense than they did before halftime. The two teams traded baskets for most of the half, with neither team gaining more than a three-point lead through the first 14 minutes.

    But with six minutes left and Cobb sitting out of the game with four fouls, the Cats' offense went quiet and Minnesota took advantage. The Gophers' Austin Hollins nailed a three with just over three minutes left to put the visitors up by five.

    Neither team hit another shot until only 27 seconds remained in the game. From there, the teams traded free throw shots and the Gophers we're able to preserve the victory.

    The 'Cats will head to Columbus, Ohio, next to face off against Ohio State Buckeyes at 6 p.m. Central time Wednesday. The game will be broadcast on BTN and can be heard on WGN 720.

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