Jan. 16, 2012
Box Score |
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Site: Evanston, Ill. (Welsh-Ryan Arena)
Score: Northwestern 59, Illinois 58
Records: NU (12-6, 2-3 Big Ten), Illinois (6-12, 0-5 Big Ten)
Next NU Event: Thursday, Jan. 19 -- vs. Michigan (Evanston, Ill.) 7 p.m. CT
EVANSTON, Ill.-- Northwestern maintained control throughout the second half, and sealed the deal with a clutch free throw by freshman Karly Roser with 2.6 seconds left to overcome a pesky Illinois squad, 59-58, Monday evening at Welsh-Ryan Arena. The `Cats (12-6, 2-3) used a balanced scoring attack, led by junior Dannielle Diamant with 16 points, to hold off the Fighting Illini and pick up their second Big Ten win. Kendall Hackney, Morgan Jones and Roser also scored in double figures for the Wildcats.
"It was just a hard fought win. I thought the crowd was great tonight and our players responded," head coach Joe McKeown said after the win. "I am just really proud. We had a lot of injuries, a lot of foul trouble, and we just kind of held on."
The `Cats jumped out to a quick start, opening the game with an 8-2 run over the first three minutes, with four different players scoring, and the defense holding Illinois to just 1-8 from the field. However, the in-state rivals fought back to take their first lead, 14-13, with just over 12 minutes to go in the half.
The two sides traded the lead six times before halftime, with neither team pulling ahead by more than four points. Diamant capped off an 11-point first-half effort with a layup to help the `Cats head into the locker room with a 29-28 lead.
Illinois inched ahead early in the second half, 32-30, however Northwestern immediately responded with a 7-0 run, highlighted by a deep triple from Diamant, to take a five-point lead and force an Illinois timeout. The `Cats began to stretch their lead, with a layup from Inesha Hale and a pull-up jumper from Morgan Jones giving the home team its largest margin of the evening, 48-38, with 10 minutes to play.
The visitors wouldn't back down, however, closing the gap to 50-49 with four minutes to go.
Illinois received another break when Diamant was whistled for her fifth foul, leaving the Wildcats without their leading scorer. Hackney, who struggled from the field all night, hit a huge three pointer to halt the 12-2 Illini run and put the `Cats up 53-49.
Both Roser and Hale hit a pair of free-throws to give Northwestern a five-point lead with 39 seconds left. Illinois responded on the other end, hitting a pair of free-throws to cut the deficit to three with 18 seconds to play. Amber Moore hit a deep three out of a timeout six seconds later, giving the Illini a share of the lead for the first time since the opening minute of the second half.
Roser was fouled as the clock ticked down, heading to the line with 2.6 seconds left. After missing the first shot, and a subsequent Illinois timeout, Roser calmly stepped to the line and sank her second shot to give Northwestern the final winning margin.
In total, there were five ties and eight lead changes in the back-and-forth contest. The `Cats also capitalized on their size advantage, scoring 26 points in the paint.
The Wildcats return to the hardwood at 7 p.m. Thursday when they battle Michigan at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
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