Feb. 28, 2009
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DEKALB, Ill. - The Northern Illinois University women's basketball team sent their seniors off as winners in their final regular season appearance in front of the home fans by overcoming a 16-point deficit to defeat Central Michigan, 81-66, in the Convocation Center Saturday night.
"This was a great game to honor our seniors," NIU head coach Carol Owens said. "It was obviously a great comeback in the second half. My thoughts in the first half when we were down 16 were if we could cut it to 10, we'd make a run in the second half. I really think we started making stops and that was the key. We did a good job limiting their three pointers - we knew they shoot the three very well."
Trailing 43-33 with 18:11 left to play, the Huskies (14-13, 9-5) went on an 11-1 run to tie the game at 44-44. However, the Chippewas (15-13, 7-7) would not go away. Central Michigan scored four unanswered points and tried to regain control of the game. But Kylie York (Fishers, Ind./Hamilton Southeastern) connected on a three pointer and Sarah Rogers (Chicago, Ill./Marshall) hit a jumper to give NIU it's first lead of the game, 49-48, with 10:23 left to play.
Down 50-49 with 10:11 left to play, the Huskies began to distance themselves from Cenral Michigan, going on an 11-2 run. York and senior Shari' Welton (Calumet City, Ill./Thornwood) hit some key threes during the stretch. A three by York, her sixth of a season-high seven in the game, gave NIU a 68-56 lead with 4:51 left to play.
"Kylie understands her importance, her ability to shoot," Owens said. "We talked about making adjustments offensively, finding what's open. At halftime the kids were angry at how we started. When we started to attack their trap, that's when we were able to get into our offense."
York finished with a team-high 21 points, going 7-of-10 from the field, all from three-point territory. She also finished with four assists, tying her season high. The Huskies, as a team, shot very well from beyond the arc, hitting a season high 10 treys, going 10-of-22.
York was one of four Huskies to finish in double digits. Welton posted her season high in points, scoring 16, while Marke Freeman (Springfield, Ill./Lanphier) and Aileen Rossouw once again played well coming off the bench. Freeman scored 15 points, and Rossouw posted her third double double of her career, her third in as many games, finishing with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
NIU's defense stepped up, limiting the MAC's top-scoring offense to 38.1 percent shooting from the field, and held the Chippewas under their season average of 78.5 points a game. The game didn't start out too promising for the Huskies.
Central Michigan opened the game with a 14-2 run. NIU's free throw shooting, which had hurt them in the last two games, kept them in this one. The Huskies went 7-for-9 from the charity stripe with Rossouw going 6-for-7 from the line in the half. Northern Illinois shot 78.9 percent from the free throw line, going 15-for-19 for the game.
NIU will close out the season with a two-game road trip. The first stop is Ball State Wednesday night. Tip off is slated for 6 p.m. Central Time.