Feb. 23, 2010
Box Score in PDF Format
MUNCIE, Ind. - Ebony Ellis scored a team-high 15 points and Sarah Rogers tallied a double-double as the Northern Illinois women's basketball team dropped a 66-60 contest at Ball State, Tuesday night.
NIU fell to 10-16 overall and 4-9 in Mid-American Conference play. Ball State improved to 12-15 and guaranteed itself a first-round home game in the MAC Tournament. The result also means the Huskies will have to travel on the road for the tournament's opening round.
Ellis (Joliet, Ill./Joliet Township) played 20 minutes of the bench, the most since being sidelined by a foot injury in early January, and connected on 7-of-9 shots from the field. The 6-foot-3 All-MAC center added six rebounds and two blocks. Rogers (Chicago, Ill./Marshall) tallied a career-high 15 rebounds, five offensive, and put in 5-of-8 shots for 12 points.
Despite the standout individual performances by Ellis and Rogers, the difference in the game proved to be Ball State's three-point shooting. Led by six treys from Audrey McDonald, the Cardinals hit a total of 12 three-pointers while shooting a 52.2 percent (12-of-23) from behind the arc. The top three-point shooter in MAC history, McDonald found the stroke early, hitting her first five three-point attempts before finishing the night 6-of-8 on threes with a game-high 26 points.
Outside of threes made, NIU led or matched the Cardinals in almost every statistical category. The Huskies dominated the paint 34-10, scored 11 second-chance points to Ball State's eight, and outshot BSU from the field by more than five percent. The game was perfectly even on glass, while the Huskies tallied more assists, blocks and steals, and committed two fewer turnovers than their MAC West rival.
Ball State set the tone from downtown early. The deep ball was the only thing that kept the Cardinals in the game over the first 11 minutes. BSU didn't hit a two-point field goal until 8:42 left in the opening period, when Shannon Klei anticipated an NIU pass for a steal and lay-up. The Cardinals finished the first half hitting only 3-of-14 two-point field goals, but went 9-of-13 on threes to enter the half with a 35-27 advantage.
The lead reached as high as 13 in the second half after back-to-back shots by Emily Maggert and Danielle Gratton. The Huskies got back into the game with a 12-5 run in which five NIU players scored. The lead evaporated to three after a Marke Freeman (Sprinfield, Ill./Lanphier) lay-up with 44 seconds remaining, but Maggert got to the free throw line on the ensuing possession where she hit two lay-ups to keep NIU at a distance.
Despite the loss, Northern Illinois freshman Brittney Callahan (Pickerington, Ohio/Pickerington) had a career night, posting career-bests of nine points, 29 minutes and two steals.
The Huskies return home for Senior Day, honoring Kylie York (Fishers, Ind./Hamilton Southeastern), Saturday, Feb. 27 at 3 p.m. Northern Illinois hosts Eastern Michigan in the final home game of the season.