Jan. 23, 2010
|HUSKIE ALL-ACCESS HIGHLIGHTS
DeKALB - The Northern Illinois women's basketball team fought back from a 16-point second half deficit to defeat Buffalo, 93-88, in overtime Saturday at the Convocation Center.
Three Huskies tallied career-highs, including a 36-point outing by junior Marke Freeman (Springfield, Ill./Lanphier). The point guard's output matched the seventh-highest individual scoring performance in NIU history.
Northern Illinois (8-10, 2-4 Mid-American Conference) trailed by 16 with just 13 minutes left in the game. A flurry of three-pointers, including two from Kylie York (Fishers, Ind./Hamilton Southeastern) ignited a 12-3 Huskie run that brought NIU within seven points. Minutes later, Freeman capped off a separate 12-4 run with a pair of acrobatic lay-ups in traffic to tie the game at 74-74
The Bulls (5-14, 1-5 MAC) answered with a lay-up by Jessica Fortman. NIU countered to retie the game on a put-back lay-up by freshman Shaakira Haywood (Canton, Mich./Plymouth), who made her first career start in place of injured Ebony Ellis (Joliet, Ill./Joliet Township).
"I felt Shaakira Haywood grew up throughout the game," NIU head coach Carol Owens said. "She only scored five points but they were big."
All-MAC forward Kourtney Brown put the visitors on top 78-76 with 35 seconds remaining with two free throws, but they were answered by a pair of Freeman lay-ups six seconds later. Buffalo held the ball on the final possession of regulation, but tough NIU defense forced Abby Dowd into an off-balance jumper, sending the game to overtime.
Buffalo took a lead by netting the first shot of the extra frame. Northern Illinois bounced back by scoring the game's next seven points, and carried that five-point margin to victory. Freeman hit 7-of-7 free throws and scored 11 of the Huskies' 15 points to help NIU start its tour of the MAC East with a win.
"The win gives us momentum to continue with the (MAC) East," Owens said. "It gives us confidence to rely on each other and trust each other."
In addition to Freeman's record-setting offensive night, she grabbed a career-high nine rebounds, dished out four assists, and swiped three steals. Sophomore Courtney Shelton (Rockford, Ill./Hononegah) and junior Terriel Cannon (Hillside, Ill./Proviso West) notched career scoring highs with 15 and 14 points, respectively. York joined the trio in double-figures with 12 points on 4-of-10 shooting from three, and added six assists.
"There are so many things to take from this game. Marke Freeman had an outstanding game, but so many people stepped up and had her back," Owens said.
The Huskies avenged last year's first-round MAC Tournament loss with their win over the Bulls, and scored the most points since an opening-day 97-69 win over Illinois State in 2006.
The Bulls rarely missed in the first half, hitting an eye-popping 60 percent (18-of-30) from the field, including 7-of-14 three-pointers. The lights-out shooting, along with a last-second bank-in three by Dowd to end the first half, gave Buffalo a 10-point halftime lead.
Brown led Buffalo with 20 points, followed by Dowd with 18. Fortman added 14 points, and Chrissy Cooper contributed 10, including two three-pointers.
The Huskies play a road game at Miami (Ohio), Wednesday, then return home for a double-header with the NIU men's basketball team, January 30. The games mark "Cram the Convo" day in DeKalb, with upper bowl tickets good for both games selling for just two dollars. The men tip-off against Buffalo at noon, and will be followed the Huskie women against Kent State.