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    Second Half Effort Guides Minnesota Past NU

    Feb. 15, 2014

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    Northwestern Minnesota 82, Northwestern 64
    Welsh-Ryan Arena • Evanston, Ill.

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    EVANSTON, Ill. -- With eight lead changes, including seven in the second half, the final score of Saturday's game vs. Minnesota was not indicative of how close the contest was as the Gophers utilized a late push to capture the 82-64 victory.

    A game after posting a career-high 29 points, freshman forward Nia Coffey registered her eighth 20-point outing of the year, leading the Wildcats with 23 points. The first-year Wildcat also had six rebounds, four assists, a block and a steal before fouling out late in the game. Sophomore forward Lauren Douglas chipped in 14 points off the bench, including three 3-pointers, while freshman guard Ashley Deary added 11 points and five assists.

    Coffey got things going early for the Wildcats, scoring eight of their first 13 points to help NU lead 13-8. She then reached double figures shortly after draining just her 10th 3-pointer of the season and added another bucket to reach 13 points and give NU the 18-14 lead.

    The Wildcats continued to stay ahead and took a nine-point lead (26-17), their largest of the game at that point, after Deary drained a 3-pointer with 7:34 left in the frame.

    The trio of Coffey, Deary and Douglas continued to play strong as they combined for 32 of Northwestern's 37 points, giving the 'Cats the 37-27 advantage with three minutes left in the half. Minnesota chipped away at the lead and ended the half on an 8-0 run to put the score at 37-35 in favor of Northwestern heading into the break.

    Coffey finished the first frame with 17 points in 18 minutes while Douglas had eight and Deary chipped in seven points and four assists. Minnesota's Rachel Banham had 14 points while Kayla Hirt also was in double figures with 10 points.

    Northwestern continued to cling to a small lead in the opening stages of the second half and led by five (48-43) after a drive by Christen Inman. Minnesota again utilized a 6-0 run to go up 49-48 and take over the lead for the first time since early in the game.

    There were then five lead changes over the ensuing minutes and Douglas helped tied things up again at 56-56 after sinking her third 3-pointer of the game. She added another bucket to put NU on top 58-56 for the sixth lead change of the half but Minnesota kept answering with and went up 61-58 following a three-point play by Amanda Zahui.

    Coffey went over the 20-point mark for the eighth time this season, draining a jumper in the paint to put the score at 60-61, Minnesota, with 5:06 remaining.

    That would be the closest Northwestern came the rest of the way as the Gophers utilized a 9-0 run to go ahead 10 (70-60) with 2:36 remaining and hung on for the 82-64 win.

    The Big Ten's leading scorer, Banham, had a game-high 32 points for Minnesota while Amanda Zahui posted a double-double with 16 points and 18 rebounds. Hirt contributed 16 points while Sari Noga added 12.

    Northwestern hits the road for two games next week, beginning with a trip to University Park, Pa., to face the Big Ten leaders, Penn State on Thursday, Feb. 20. Tip is set for 6 p.m. CT and that game will air live on the Big Ten Network. The week concludes with another BTN contest, on Sunday, Feb. 23, playing Ohio State in Columbus.

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