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Northwestern 92 St. Francis (NY) 61

Box Score

Postgame audio - Coach Bill Carmody, Michael Thompson & Drew Crawford:

Northwestern's 1-3-1 defense befuddled St. Francis into 21 turnovers and after a slow start the Terriers could not contain the Wildcat's explosive troika of Drew Crawford, John Shurna and Michael "Juice" Thompson.

Trailing 15-13, ailing from what head coach Bill Carmody called "Garden jitters," the Wildcats settled into their funky zone, with JerShon Cobb at the top of the D and Shurna's long arms cutting off the passing lane to the right corner as he straddled the arc.

A 19-4 run later, capped off by Cobb's triple out of a Shurna double team and Northwestern was in control.

The Terriers sliced a 19 point Wildcat advantage down to 45-38 on Dre Calloway's crossover drive three minutes into the second half, but the visitors from Evanston immediately responded with an 18-5 push followed soon thereafter by a 21-4 spurt to take the lead up to an evening-high 30.

Crawford, who kept NU in the game early with 10 points over the first 10 minutes, all generated on jump shots from the right side of the court, finished with a season-best 25 along with nine rebounds and eight assists.

Carmody described Crawford as a player who can sometimes limit himself into being just a "suburban jump shooter" who can do so much more, but joked that "the suburban jump shooting was pretty good tonight in the city."

Shurna still found a way to quietly exceed his 23.7 point scoring average, coming on late for a total of 26 - 9-15 from the floor.

The Wildcats had 26 assists on their 34 baskets and committed just three second half turnovers. Saint Francis' turnovers resulted in 35 points for Carmody's squad.

Northwestern advances to play the winner of Davidson and St. John's in the championship of the 2010 MSG Holiday Festival.

I'll have some more observations from tonight's game once I get on the New Jersey side of the river.

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