Nov. 13, 2009
Box Score |
DeKALB - The Northern Illinois University women's basketball team opened the 2009-10 season with a hard-fought 86-73 victory over Bradley Friday night in the Convocation Center.
"I thought this game was huge for us," NIU head coach Carol Owens said. "We got our feet wet with the exhibition game and we knew Bradley was a strong rebounding team and they shot the ball well from outside."
The Huskies' ability to suppress and answer Braves runs impressed Owens.
"I am very proud of how we handled their runs both in the first and second half," she said. "When it came down to the last four minutes when we really needed to get stops and rebounds, we did a great job."
NIU (1-0) had three players finish in double digits, with Ebony Ellis (Joliet, Ill./Joliet Township) leading the way with a career-high 22 points and game-high 17 rebounds. Marke Freeman (Springfield, Ill./Lanphier) was right behind with a career-high 21 points. Mauvolyene Adams (Bolingbrook, Ill./Bolingbrook) finished with a double-double, scoring 18 points and grabbing 11 boards.
Northern Illinois showed grit with a strong finish to clinch their fourth season-opening win in five seasons under Owens. With the game tied 65-65 with 5:50 left to play, the Huskies rattled off a 13-2 run to take a 78-67 advantage with 2:47 left. Bradley (0-1) cut the deficit to seven on a pair of lay ups, but that would be as close as the Braves would get.
"(The finish) shows our level of maturity and how we have grown," Adams said of the Huskies pulling away down the stretch. "It is a matter of us having more heart. Looking how the season ended last year, we have learned from it and grown as a team."
Adams referred to a five-point loss suffered in the first round of the MAC Tournament. The Huskies have used the game as a motivational reference point all off-season.
The Braves outshot the Huskies, hitting 45.2 percent of their tries from the field (28-62) to the Huskies' 44 percent effort. Bradley held a 46-44 edge in rebounding, but the Huskies took advantage of their offensive boards, scoring 28 second-chance points to Bradley's 10. The Huskies also capitalized on the Braves' 25 turnovers, scoring 27 points off Bradley miscues.
Bradley had four players finish in double figures. Katie Yohn led the way with 16 points. Renee Frericks and Sonya Harris each finished with 15 points.
The Huskies are back in action Tuesday, Nov. 17 when NIU plays host to another in-state foe, Western Illinois. Tip-off against the Leathernecks is set for 7 p.m. For tickets, log on to www.niuhuskies.com or call (815) 752-6800.