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    'Cats Bury Duquesne, 79-72

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM Beth Marshall scored 25 points on 6-of-7 from the three-point land in NU's win Thursday evening.
    Beth Marshall scored 25 points on 6-of-7 from the three-point land in NU's win Thursday evening.

    March 18, 2010

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    EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern concocted an offensive maelstrom, using a 55 percent second-half shooting effort, four outstanding double-digit performances, including 25 from Beth Marshall, and a 16-point edge in the paint to singe Duquesne 79-72 in the opening round of the WNIT Thursday evening at Welsh-Ryan Arena. In total, Marshall connected on six treys and spearheaded 73 percent three-point barrage for the 17-14 Wildcats.

    The Wildcats will face St. Bonaventure, who defeated Robert Morris, 76-50, Thursday evening. Tip is set for 6 p.m. CT Monday evening at St. Bonaventure.

    "This is a big step for us," head coach Joe McKeown said. "To play at home in front of a great crowd, great fans, and to put the game on national television is great for Northwestern. It's a huge stepping stone for the school and I'm just really happy for our players."

    There was a sense of urgency in the air from tip, and the Wildcats took charge, going to All-Big Ten honoree Amy Jaeschke on the first possession. The junior instantly set tempo, swishing a jumper and sparking a 5-0 run. Duquesne evened the tally two minutes later, but hit a wall. Northwestern held DU to eight empty possessions, including two turnovers while going on a 15-0 run.

    Back-to back buckets by Vanessa Abel made it a 20-9 contest with 11:51 remaining. Duquesne, known for its perimeter play, answered with a three to pull to within eight with 11 minutes left.

    After Northwestern extended its lead to double-digits, two free throws by DU's Alex Gensler once again cut the difference to single digits. But Northwestern turned up the heat on defense, swarming within its trademark Blizzard defense while capitalizing on its perimeter play. Back-to-back triples by Kristin Cartwright and Marshall gave NU its largest lead of the game, a 15-point advantage. Marshall held the dagger offensively for the 'Cats, going 4-of-5 from deep in the first 20 minutes.

    The Wildcats continued to shine offensively, composing an 8-0 run to put more distance between themselves and Duquesne, owning a 17-point lead with 3:19 left. Northwestern held a 43-27 advantage at the break.

    Marshall led all scorers with 14 points while Brittany Orban and Meshia Reed contributed seven. Jaeschke, who held a decided height advantage against the undersidzed Duquesne team, hauled down nine boards. But NU really capitalized on nine costly DU miscues, parlaying the turnovers into 17 points.

    The saying that no lead is ever safe proved to be true and Duquesne slowly cut into Northwestern's double-digit halftime advantage, eventually pulling the scored even at 51 mid-way through the second stanza.

    The 'Cats responded with a 9-0 run, thanks largely in part to two triples by Marshall, but Duquesne stormed right back to slash the lead back down to two, 65-63, with 5:28 remaining. A key lay-in by Dannielle Diamant brought NU's lead back up to five with four minutes on the clock, but the Dukes' fortitude surfaced once again, and a three-pointer once again cut the difference to two.

    Northwestern scored six unanswered points and found themselves up by eight, 74-66, at the four minute mark. DU came back with two threes--the Dukes took a total of 35 shots from downtown--to make it a one-possession game, 75-72, with 33 seconds left. Duquesne was forced to foul and Kendall Hackney and Orban combined to sink four free down the stretch to preserve the win.