Dec. 17, 2011
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Site: Evanston, Ill. (Welsh-Ryan Arena)
Score: Northwestern 70, Central Connecticut State 64
Records: NU (9-1), Central Connecticut State (5-5, 2-0 NEC)
Next NU Event: Sunday, Dec. 18 -- vs. Eastern Illinois (Welsh-Ryan Arena), 5 p.m.
Tickets: Available at NUsports.com or at Welsh-Ryan Arena prior to the contest.
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Reggie Hearn scored 15 of his career-high 17 points in the second half, including hitting all four 3-point attempts, as Northwestern fought off Central Connecticut State 70-64 Saturday afternoon at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
The Wildcats improve to 9-1 for the third consecutive year with the victory. NU's senior class also became the winningest in program history by virtue of earning its 66th triumph over the past four seasons.
The Wildcats surged out to a quick 7-2 lead, but the offense then bogged down as the Blue Devils went on a 10-2 run over the next five minutes to go in front 12-9.
Northwestern regained a one-point lead on consecutive baskets by Drew Crawford, but the Wildcats were ice-cold from 3-point range over the opening 20 minutes of play and it eventually caught up to them.
NU made just one of its first 13 attempts from beyond the arc and, meanwhile, CCSU freshman guard Kyle Vinales caught fire. Vinales tallied 15 first-half points as the Blue Devils led by as many as eight points, 29-21, in the opening stanza.
However, Northwestern came to life at the end of the period as it ended the half on a 9-0 run, including a 3-pointer by John Shurna that beat the buzzer, giving the 'Cats a 30-29 lead at the break.
The Wildcats' lead was one at 50-49 with eight minutes remaining when Hearn and JerShon Cobb drilled consecutive triples to give the NU its largest lead of the game, 56-49.
But the Blue Devils scored eight of the game's next 10 points, including two 3-pointers from Vinales, to get back within one with 4:53 left. Two free throws by Shurna made it a three-point game, but Vinales scored on a lay-in with 2:57 left to give him 27 points and make it a one-point contest again.
Hearn stepped up, though, drilling a huge trey out of the corner to push the lead back to four. One again, Central Connecticut State had the answer, as Ken Horton hit a 3-pointer coming out of a timeout to make it 63-62 'Cats with 1:35 left.
With fouls to give, the Blue Devils took three of them to try to disrupt Northwestern offensively. It was Hearn who came through for his team again, slashing to the basket for a layup and drawing the foul as he converted a three-point play with 55.5 seconds to go to increase the hosts' advantage back up to four.
Robby Ptacek hit two free throws for CCSU with 43.5 seconds left to get the guests back within two, but Crawford hit a tough jumper in the lane with 14.5 seconds left to help seal the win. After a turnover on the other end, Shurna made two free throws to ice the game.
Luka Mirkovic gave NU solid contributions in the post, recording 10 points, eight rebounds and five assists. He and Hearn were joined in double figures by Crawford (14 points) and Shurna (12 points).
Northwestern wraps up its stretch of three home games in four days with a contest against Eastern Illinois at 5 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are available at NUsports.com or at Welsh-Ryan Arena prior to the contest.
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