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    Wildcats Fall to Blue Demons as Late Rally Falls Short



    March 11, 1999

    Box Score

    AP Sports Writer

    ROSEMONT, Ill. (AP) - Freshman Quentin Richardson showed Wednesday night why he was chosen his league's top player, scoring 23 points and grabbing 10 rebounds to lead DePaul past Chicago-area rival Northwestern 69-64 in the first round of the NIT.

    The Blue Demons (18-12) got their first postseason win since 1990 when two free throws from senior Willie Coleman with 7.6 seconds left helped fend off a late rally by Northwestern.

    Evan Eschmeyer scored 18 points to lead Northwestern (15-14) and sparked a late 10-0 run by the Wildcats that brought them to within two with 28 seconds remaining.

    Richardson, who says he will make a decision on jumping to the NBA once the tournament ends, helped DePaul open up a 12-point lead in the second half before Northwestern rallied.

    The Blue Demons went on a 15-4 run to take a 60-48 lead as Richardson scored eight points and Coleman had a 3-pointer and follow up.

    DePaul still led 66-54 with 7:45 to go on a basket by Coleman.

    Northwestern reponded with two baskets by Eschmeyer, another by Tavaras Hardy and a 3-pointer by Steve Lepore that made it 66-62 with 1:37 to go.

    After a DePaul turnover and missed free throw by Lance Williams, Eschmeyer scored again with 28 seconds left to make it 66-64.

    Williams was fouled again. He hit the first and missed the second with 27 seconds remaining to make it 67-64.

    Eschmeyer missed from in close but Northwestern retained possession with 11 seconds to go after a scramble for the ball. Northwestern's Sean Wink then lost the ball with 8.7 seconds to go and the Wildcats intentionally fouled Coleman, whose free throw with no time left this season gave DePaul a victory over Cincinnati.

    An orange sign from the upper deck at the Rosemont Horizon was begging Richardson to return to DePaul: "Q Stay, No, NBA." Richardson was chosen Conference USA's player of the year this season.

    With Bulls general manager Jerry Krause watching from a seat underneath the basket, Richardson scored 15 first-half points.

    DePaul used a collapsing zone defense to envelop the 6-foot-11 Eschmeyer underneath, holding him to three first-half shots. Eschmeyer was able to kick the ball back out and Lepore, one of six freshman starters in the game, found the range in the first half, hitting four 3-pointers as the half ended in at 37-all.

    Lepore didn't get the open looks in the second half. He finished with 15 points, the same number as Coleman.

    It was just the third postseason appearance in Northwestern's history, all in the NIT. Each time the Wildcats played the Blue Demons, winning once and now losing two.