December 5, 1998
EVANSTON, Ill. - Sophomore center Tami Sears (Libertyville,
Ill./Libertyville) scored 10 of her 15 points in the game's final 4:19
to propel Northwestern University to a 65-59 come-from-behind victory
over Western Kentucky in the championship game of the Roger L. White
With her team down by eight (59-51), Sears went on a tear, ripping down
offensive rebounds and putting in layups. She got fouled on two of
these occasions and each time, made the ensuing free throw. Her last
layup came with 1:15 remaining in the contest and gave the Wildcats
their first lead (61-59) since the 4:22 mark of the first half.
The Lady Toppers (7-2) had a pair of chances to tie, but Shea
Lunsford's (17 points, 17 rebounds) jumper rimmed out and ShaRae
Mansfield's follow would not drop in the final minute. Junior forward
Leslie Schock (Elgin, Ill./Elgin) hit a jumper and sophomore point guard
Dana Leonard (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South) nailed a layup for the
Northwestern jumped out to a 7-2 lead with 16:33 to play in the first
half. The Wildcats extended the lead to 16-7 on a Sears jumper at
13:20. Northwestern pushed ahead 20-9 at 11:40, its largest lead of the
game, but the Lady Toppers came back with a 13-2 run, capped by a steal
and layup from Rachel Byars to tie the game at 22-22 with 7:16 left.
The Wildcats then went 4:16 without a field goal before senior guard
Megan Chawansky (Avon Lake, Ohio/Avon Lake) broke the drought at 5:22 to
give NU a 24-22 lead. Western Kentucky grabbed its first lead at 26-24
with 3:51 remaining in the half on two free throws by Katashia Witcher.
After NU's 20-9 lead at 11:40, Western Kentucky outscored the Wildcats
21-7 the rest of the period to take a 30-27 halftime lead. Lunsford led
all players with 15 points and seven rebounds at the break. Chawansky
had nine points to lead Northwestern.
Leonard and Chawansky each finished with 17 points. Sears had a
team-high nine rebounds. Schock tallied 12 points and five boards.
Leonard and Sears each earned a spot on the all-tournament team, while
Chawansky was named the Roger L. White Invitational's Most Valuable
Player for the second time in her career. She first won the distinction
in 1996. Other members of the all-tournament team were Lunsford and
Witcher and Maine's Jamie Cassidy.
The Wildcats are enjoying a five-game winning streak, their longest
since the 1995-96 season. They will bring a 5-2 record with them out to
California 10 days from now when they take on Stanford (Dec. 15 at 9:30
p.m. CST) and Cal-Berkeley (Dec. 17 at 9:30 p.m. CST).