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    Jan. 23, 1998

    Wildcat Women's Hoops Battles Back, Falls Just Short at Illinois

    Divjak and Chawansky Lone 'Cats in Double Figures

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Illinois used a 13-0 run to start the game and fought off a frantic Wildcat comeback in the second half as the sixth-ranked Illini recorded a 70-60 victory over Northwestern on Friday night. Illinois improves to 14-5, 8-1 Big Ten. The 'Cats drop to 6-14, 1-7 Big Ten.

    It was a tale of two halves for NU. Illinois came out of the gates smoking, holding the Wildcats scoreless until Kristina Divjak hit a layup nearly 4 1/2 minutes into the contest. The Illini continued to dominate in the opening period, eventually taking a 40-13 lead into the locker room. UI shot 57 percent (17-30) from the field in the first half while the 'Cats were just 5-30 (.167).

    The Illinois lead was 31 points at 48-17 with 17:17 left in the game when the Wildcats began to claw back. NU outscored the Illini 15-3 over the next five minutes to cut the gap to 51-32 with 12:17 remaining. Both teams played even for the next five minute of the half, as UI led 59-39 with 7:05 left. However, a quick 8-0 run by NU over the next 1:11 closed the gap to just 12 points at 59-47 with 5:54 remaining on the clock. The gap would close to eight at 68-60 with 46 seconds remainig, but time expired before the Wildcats could complete the comeback. NU outscored the Illini 47-30 in the final 20 minutes of the game.

    Divjak, after having just two points and zero rebounds at halftime, ended the contest with team-highs of 17 points and nine rebounds. Amber DeWall added nine boards, seven assists and four steals before fouling out with less than a minute remaining in the game. Megan Chawansky added 12 points, seven boards and five steals in the loss. NU as a team collected 18 offensive boards and 13 steals while hitting 22-of-26 free throws on the night. Ashley Berggren led Illinois with 16 points while Nicole Vasey had 10 points and 12 rebounds.

    The 'Cats face Michigan State on Sunday at 1 p.m. CST in East Lansing. The game will be broadcast by WNUR 89.3 FM radio, and televised live in the greater Lansing area by MediaOne.