Shelton Has Career Day as NIU Falls to WMU, 71-67
Jan. 15, 2011
DEKALB, Ill. - Courtney Shelton scored 12 of her career-high 29 points in the last 1:07 of the game, but her clutch effort wasn't enough to give the Northern Illinois women's basketball team its first Mid-American Conference win. The Huskies fell 71-67 to Western Michigan, Saturday at the Convocation Center.
"(Shelton) shot lights out; she takes good shots and that helps shooting percentage," NIU head coach Kathi Bennett said. "She had a heck of a game."
Western Michigan coach Tasha McDowell was even more complimentary of Shelton's late-game heroics.
"That kid hit some amazing shots," McDowell said. "I was thinking 'what can we do to stop her?'"
As it turned out, the clock was the only thing that stopped Shelton down the stretch. The Huskies (6-11, 0-4 MAC) trailed by nine points with 1:15 left before Shelton got hot. Shehit a pair of free throws to start the NIU comeback. Northern Illinois fouled and WMU (5-12, 1-3 MAC) went 1-of-2 from the line before she knocked down a three-pointer to cut the lead to 65-60 with 56 seconds remaining.
NIU fouled on the ensuing inbounds and the Broncos missed both attempts. Shelton was fouled on a lay-up one play later. She made one of her two free throw attempts, trimming the lead to four. Western Michigan's Kemmy Dominique made two free throws to answer, but Shelton hit another three on the ensuing possession to cut the lead to three, 67-64, with 36 seconds left.
Nine seconds later, WMU's Taylor Manley was fouled and hit both free throw attempts to extend the lead to five. Shelton responded with another three-pointer, her third in 36 seconds, to get the Huskies within two with 20 seconds left. The Broncos proved evasive on their next possession, taking 13 seconds off the clock before the Huskies could foul. Dominique hit two more free throws with seven seconds left to put WMU ahead two possessions, effectively ending the game.
The Huskies got off to their best start in MAC play, jumping out to a 13-2 lead. Shelton scored six points during the opening run, and sophomore Brittney Callahan put in five. Another Shelton three put the Huskies on top 21-11 with 8:21 left. Western Michigan finished the half on a 15-5 run to take a 31-26 lead into the locker room.
"Turning the ball over, not getting back in transition really caused us in the first half to lose our lead," Bennett said.
Western Michigan kept the Huskies at bay for the entire second half, in part by shooting 57.1 percent from the field.
"They shot the ball really well, but we were late on everything," Bennett said. "We didn't do a good job contesting shots."
NIU got within one on two occasions, but never retook the lead. Shelton scored 18 points in the second half alone. Behind her effort, Kim Davis finished the game a double-double, registering 10 points and 10 rebounds. Marke Freeman scored 11 points with five boards. Freshman Danielle Pulliam added a career-high eight assists. Bennett saw progress offensively, but knows there is room to improve.
"We were a lot better offensively and we had good looks," she said. "It's just we missed a lot of lay-ups, free throw shooting. Those are things we've got to keep working at. I did think our offense was much better than what we've done in the past."
The Broncos had a three-headed scoring monster that received 18 points each from Dominique and Manley, and 17 from Miame Giden. Brenna Bankston scored nine points, all of three-pointers, and added 11 rebounds.
The Huskies grabbed 41 boards to WMU's 37, and have outrebounded their opponents in every MAC game this year. NIU also hit 52.9 percent, continuing its role as one of the most accurate three-point shooting teams in the nation.
NIU returns to action Wednesday, January 19 at 7 p.m. against Ball State at the Convocation Center.
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