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Northwestern needs late comeback to stay undefeated

by Callie Counsellor (@CCounsellor)

In its first road test of the season, Northwestern faltered but did not fall. The Wildcats orchestrated a late second-half comeback to take down Boston College, 67-63, as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Wednesday night.

“As a team, we never quit,” coach Joe McKeown said. “We played from behind almost the whole game but I felt like we just kept battling. Everybody stepped up. “

The Cats led 9-8 after three and a half minutes, but trailed from then on until the 2:26 mark of the second half, when sophomore Karly Roser made a layup to put NU ahead, 59-58.

While Roser hit the go-ahead shot, two freshmen led the charge in the Cats’ comeback.

It is becoming clear that this is not your average group of wide-eyed, bench-warming freshmen, with first-year forwards Maggie Lyon and Lauren Douglas leading the Cats in scoring with 16 and 18 points, respectively. That makes it four games this season in which one of those two freshman has led the team in points.

With just under six minutes left, Lyon hit a three-pointer to bring the Cats within four points, which was followed soon after by two consecutive steals by Douglas. After two free throws from senior Kendall Hackney and a missed shot from Boston College, Lyon grabbed a crucial defensive rebound and Douglas was fouled, making one of two free throws to bring the Cats within one.

After a three-pointer from Boston College, Lyon hit another three, setting up Roser’s  go-ahead layup a few seconds later.

NU (6-0) trailed Boston College (4-3) by 12 points in the first half, shooting only 38 percent while allowing the Eagles to make 52 percent of their shots.

However, the Cats outscored Boston College 11-2 before halftime to cut the lead to two, holding the Eagles without a field goal for the final 5:46 of the first half. At halftime, the NU looked to refine its offensive game plan.

“We just talked about taking better shots,” McKeown said. “I thought our shot selection really wasn’t what we wanted.”

The Eagles started the second half with seven straight points, but NU never trailed by more than 10 after halftime, setting up the late comeback.

Senior Dannielle Diamant made five free throws in the final 22 seconds to seal the victory and keep NU undefeated.

NU returns to Illinois to take on in-state rival DePaul (5-2) on Sunday. The Blue Demons are coming off a second-place finish at the Paradise Jam Tournament in the Virgin Islands. The team made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season but lost four seniors including forward Keisha Hampton, who cracked the top 11 all-time leading scorers for DePaul with 1,574 career points.