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    Second-Half Surge Not Enough, As Illinois Bests NU, 69-57

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM
    Morgan Jones scored 12 of her team-high 16 points in the second half.

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM
    Morgan Jones scored 12 of her team-high 16 points in the second half.
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM

    Feb. 20, 2012

    WATCH: Big Ten Network Game Recap

    Site: Champaign, Ill. (Assembly Hall)
    Score: Illinois 69, Northwestern 57,
    Records: NU (14-13, 4-10 Big Ten), Illinois (11-17, 5-10 Big Ten)
    Next NU Event: Thursday, Feb. 23 -- vs. Iowa (Evanston, Ill.), 7 p.m. CT

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill.-- Northwestern turned in a strong second-half performance but could not erase a 14-point first-half deficit, falling at Illinois, 69-57, Monday evening at Assembly Hall. Dannielle Diamant, Morgan Jones and Kendall Hackney all finished in double figures for the Wildcats.

    After both teams combined for eight turnovers and only four points in the opening five minutes, Illinois found its footing first, surging for a 7-0 run to establish a 10-2 lead at the 13-minute mark. The Illini, aided by the energy of the late-arriving football team, continued to find the bucket, building an 11-point lead mid-way through the stanza. Northwestern, plagued by turnovers, fouls, and poor shooting, connected on 18 percent of its shots through the first 13 minutes.

    The rest of the half continued in the same fashion, and the Illini took a 34-20 lead into intermission. Hackney, out most of the first half in foul trouble, led NU with nine points while Diamant added five points and five boards. The Wildcats shot just 20 percent from the field and committed 14 turnovers.

    An and-1 on the opening possession of the second half from Morgan Jones pulled the 'Cats to within 11, but Illinois responded with its then-largest lead of the game, an 18-point lead at the 16-minute mark.

    Redshirt sophomore Amber Moore continued to be NU's nemesis, recording 25 points in the first 28 minutes, accounting for half of the Illini's production. She entered the contest averaging 9.0 ppg, but a three-pointer with 13:41 remaining made way for a 20-point Illinois lead.

    Northwestern cut it to 15 at the 5:30 mark, thanks to a sweet pass from Allison Mocchi to Diamant, who had snuck behind her defender. A jumper from Tailor Jones whittled the lead to 13 with 3:29 left, and the Wildcats' energy, mostly coming from its full-court pressure, was at its peak. But in the end, it was the Illini's day, as they claimed their 11th victory of the season.

    Northwestern returns to Welsh-Ryan Arena for its final home stand of the regular season, when it hosts Iowa Thursday. Tip is set for 7 p.m. and will be streamed live on BTDN. Following that contest, the Wildcats welcome Michigan State to Evanston for the completion of the regular season. It's Senior Day and NU will honor Brittany Orban, Tailor Jones and Mocchi.

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