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    Second Half Comeback Falls Just Short vs. No. 12/13 Penn State

    Feb. 2, 2014

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    Northwestern No. 12/13 Penn State 79,
    Northwestern 75

    Welsh-Ryan Arena • Evanston, Ill.

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    EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern utilized a strong second half comeback to put the Big Ten leaders, No. 12/13 Penn State on the ropes but the Lady Lions hung on for the 79-75 victory Sunday afternoon at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Fueled by a career-high 26 points by Maggie Lyon, including 21 in the second half, NU led by four down the stretch after trailing by as many as 20 points in the first.

    Lyon and Lauren Douglas both had big numbers in the second half, helping NU outscore PSU 44-35. Douglas had 12 second half points before fouling out late in the game to finish with 15 points and nine rebounds. Alex Cohen also had a solid effort for NU with a career-high 18 points while Christen Inman added 11. Ashley Deary matched a career-high with 11 assists. All of these players stepped up in the absence of NU's leading scorer and rebounder, as Nia Coffey missed her first game of the year with an injury.

    There were two ties and four lead changes in the opening minutes of the first frame. Douglas, who started in place of Coffey, tied things up at 8-8 after going 1-of-2 from the free throw line and then Cohen drained a 3-pointer giving the 'Cats their first lead at 11-8.

    Inman and Lyon had the task of defending Penn State's leading scorer, Maggie Lucas, who entered the game averaging 21.1 points per game to rank second in the conference. The duo frustrated Lucas early as she was just 1-of-4 from the field but she scored seven-straight points, including five-consecutive free throws to put Penn State up 19-11 with 11:25 left in the first.

    The Lady Lions continued to build on their lead and went up by as many as 20 in the first. Cohen helped the Wildcats stay in it, scoring her second 3-pointer of the game and then added another bucket to cut PSU's lead to 14 (44-30). Lyon scored a free throw just before halftime to put the score at 44-31 in favor of the visiting team.

    Cohen finished the first with 12 points on 5-of-7 from the field and 2-of-3 from long distance along with a game-high three blocks. Inman also had a productive first half with seven points on 3-of-4 from the field. Deary led NU with seven assists and shared the court at times with Karly Roser, who was playing in just her second game all season.

    Lucas was just 3-of-7 from the field but a perfect 9-for-9 from the free throw line to lead all scorers with 15 before halftime. Penn State had the 9-0 advantage on second chance points, 17-6 clip on points off turnovers and 20-12 edge on points in the paint. Northwestern had the 9-4 clip on fast break points.

    Northwestern utilized a 9-0 run early in the second half to cut the deficit to just eight points (50-42) with 14:52 left. Cohen drained two free throws to up her point total to 14, which broke her previous career-high of 12, while Douglas and Inman added buckets and a Lyon 3-pointer capped off the run.

    Penn State went back up by 11 but the Wildcats kept coming back with another 3-pointer by Cohen and two buckets by Lyon to cut the deficit to four (55-51) with 9:29 remaining. Lucas put the Lady Lions back up six with her first points of the half, but once again NU came within four (57-53) off two more by Douglas with the assist coming from Lyon.

    Douglas continued to contribute for NU, scoring four straight free throws to make it a one-point game at 60-59 and again at 62-61. Lyon then gave Northwestern its first lead since early in the first frame, sinking two free throws to go ahead 63-62.

    PSU went 1-of-2 from the free throw line on its next possession to tie things at 63-63 but NU continued to stay in front by two at 65-63 and again at 67-65. Lyon gave the Wildcats a four-point cushion at 70-66 with 3:07 left.

    Penn State came right back and drained a 3-pointer of its own then Talia East sunk two free throws to put the Lady Lions back on top 71-70. PSU went up by four points before Lyon made her fourth 3-pointer of the game to put the score at 74-73, PSU, with 58 seconds left.

    The game remained tight in the closing seconds as Cohen went 1-of-2 from the free throw line, making it a two-point game with 14 seconds left. Inman stole the PSU in-bounds pass, giving Northwestern two final looks at the net but the Lady Lions defense stopped Inman's jumper and Lyon's layup after she grabbed the offensive rebound. PSU sunk its last two free throws to put the final score at 79-75.

    Northwestern limited PSU's Lucas to just four second-half points on 2-for-10 from the field and 0-for-4 from long distance. She finished with 19 points.

    Northwestern sticks around Evanston this week, hosting Michigan on Thursday, Feb. 6 at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Tip is scheduled for 7 p.m. CT.

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