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    Survive and Advance: 'Cats Edge Ball State in WNIT Opener

    March 20, 2014

    Box Score

    Northwestern Northwestern 69, Ball State 65
    2014 WNIT • Welsh-Ryan Arena • Evanston, Ill.  

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    EVANSTON, Ill. -- Four Wildcat underclassmen, who were all making their first postseason appearance, finished in double figures Thursday night in the opening round of the WNIT, helping Northwestern defeat Ball State, 69-65. Freshman point guard Ashley Deary had a solid second half with 12 points to finish with 15 for the game and freshman Christen Inman sunk a late jumper to help NU hang on for the win.

    Northwestern will host IUPUI at Welsh-Ryan Arena in the second round of the WNIT on Sunday, March 23 at 2 p.m.

    Freshman Nia Coffey and sophomore Lauren Douglas led NU with 17 each while Deary's 15 were close behind. Deary had a solid stat line, adding seven rebounds, six assists and three steals. Coffey had a team-high nine rebounds to go with three blocks and two steals. Douglas contributed six rebounds, two blocks and two steals. Maggie Lyon also finished in double figures with 12 points, including three 3-pointers.

    Ball State took the 9-5 lead early but the Wildcats came back strong, using a 12-0 run to go ahead 17-9 with 11:34 left in the first. At that point in the game, Coffey had eight of NU's 17 points as the Wildcats were shooting 42.9 percent from the field.

    The Cardinals continued to chip away at the lead and pulled within one at 22-21 with 8:15 left in the first and re-gained the lead shortly after. Both teams traded leads over the next few minutes with Coffey banking one in to put NU back up 29-28, and reach double figures for the game. Coffey's bucket marked the seventh lead change of the half.

    There was one more lead change before the frame ended as Ball State gained some separation heading into the break. Douglas drained a 3-pointer just before the buzzer to put the score at 38-34 in favor of Ball State.

    Douglas led Northwestern with 12 points off the bench in the first while Coffey chipped in 10 points. As a team, the Wildcats shot 41.9 percent from the field. Brittany Carter led Ball State with 14 points in the first while the Cardinals shot 45.2 percent from the field and drained six 3-pointers.

    Northwestern re-gained the lead early in the second thanks to Coffey and Deary scoring the first 11 points of the frame for the Wildcats, giving them the 45-43 edge. NU continued to maintain a narrow lead over the Cardinals with Deary having a solid second half for the Wildcats. She had nine second-half points, helping the Wildcats maintain the 58-55 lead with 7:05 remaining.

    Ball State tied things up at 58-58 for the fourth tie of the contest and then took the 61-60 lead by draining its eighth 3-pointer of the game with 4:29 remaining. Not to be outdone, Lyon sunk one from long distance, putting the Wildcats back on top 63-61.

    Lyon then went 1-of-2 from the line and Deary added two more, giving Northwestern the 66-61 lead with 1:52 to play. Ball State once again threatened late, pulling within two (67-65) with 50 seconds showing but Christen Inman hit a clutch jumper as the shotclock expired on the other end to give NU the 69-65 lead with 20 seconds left. That shot proved to be the difference maker as the Wildcats hung on for the 69-65 win to advance to the second round of the WNIT.

    NU shot an impressive 63.6 percent in the second half while limiting the Cardinals to just 22.9 percent for the frame. Carter finished with 17 points for Ball State while three others were in double figures.

    With the win, NU advances to the second round of the WNIT for the third time under head coach Joe McKeown. Northwestern already played IUPUI earlier this year, defeating the Jaguars, 72-61 on Dec. 21 at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

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