Jan. 21, 2009
Box Score in PDF Format
DEKALB, Ill. -The Northern Illinois University women's basketball team wrapped up its three-game homestand in style, defeating Ball State, 76-72, Wednesday night in the Convocation Center, snapping a 10-game losing streak to the Cardinals and grabbing a share of first place in the MAC West in the process. The win was also NIU's third straight at home.
"I'm very happy about this win," NIU head coach Carol Owens said. "It was important to this team. This is the first time we've beaten them in a long time. They've become a rival for us. We've had some close games in the past. I thought our team was ready to play tonight."
The Huskies (9-9, 4-1) entered the second half, trailing 36-35. Both teams exchanged baskets in the opening minutes of the second period until NIU built a 42-38 lead with 15:53 left to play. Ball State (11-7, 4-1) countered with a 5-0 run to take a 43-42 lead with 14:48 left to play. It would be their last lead of the game.
Northern Illinois erupted with an 11-2 run to jump out to a 53-45 lead with 11:14 left in the game. Aileen Rossouw (Plano, Texas/Plano) sparked the run with a layup and Jessie Wilcox followed with a three-pointer and a jumper to open the NIU advantage to six. Rossouw closed out the scoring with a steal and taking the ball all the way for an easy layup.
Ball State came back, however. A three pointer by Ball State's Danielle Gratton pulled the Cardinals to within five with 8:51 left to play. But a bucket by Marke Freeman (Springfield, Ill./Lanphier), a three pointer from Kylie York (Fishers, Ind./Hamilton Southeastern) and another trey from Wilcox restored order for the Huskies and pushed the NIU lead to 63-52 with 4:51 left. Ebony Ellis (Joliet, Ill./Joliet Township) hit two free throws to give NIU a 13-point lead, its largest of the game.
Wilcox led the way for the Huskies with a team- and season-high 20 points, while Freeman followed with 12 points and a career-high seven assists. Mauvolyene Adams (Bolingbrook, Ill./Bolingbrook) had a solid game finishing in double figures for the fifth time this season with 10 points.
"Jessie and Marke came up big for us," Owens said. "They were huge in this game. They [Ball State] didn't have an answer for Marke and Jessie did a great job of scoring and coming up with key rebounds and stops down the stretch."
The Huskie bench also played a major factor for NIU, outscoring Ball State's reserves, 27-4. In addition to Freeman's 12, Rossouw finished with seven, while Sara Rogers (Chicago, Ill./Marshall) hit a couple of big buckets late to finish with four, while Becky Smith (Janesville, Wis./Parker) also finished with four points.
The Huskies shot a season-high 51.8 percent from the field, going 29-for-56, including 7-for-13 from three-point territory. Northern Illinois also had the edge in rebounds, winning the battle to the glass, 33-30. While NIU had 18 turnovers to Ball State's 16, the Huskies made the most of Cardinal miscues, scoring 22 points off turnovers. The Cardinals scored 11 points off NIU turnovers.
NIU hits the road this weekend when the Huskies travel to Athens, Ohio to take on the Bobcats of Ohio University. Tip off is set for 11 a.m. CST.