DeKALB, Ill. - Trailing by 11 points with 9:34 left in the game, Northern Illinois came all the way back to grab a two point lead with 1:46 left but could not hang on as Bradley escaped with a 50-45 win Wednesday night at the NIU Convocation Center.
NIU (2-2) took its last lead on Amanda Corral's (Hobart, Ind./Hobart) second three-pointer in as many possessions. However, in a game that was mainly decided by Bradley's 6-3 edge in treys, the Braves (4-2) countered with a three from Katie Yohn to reclaim the lead, 46-45.
On the Huskies' next trip down the floor, Jenna Thorp (Hinckley, Ill./Hinckley-Big Rock) came up empty on a left-handed driving layup and BU's Catie O'Leary responded by nailing a wide-open jumper from the left elbow with 38 seconds left.
During NIU's final possession, the Huskies had two good looks at a three to tie the game but both just missed. Corral had the first shot from the left corner after pump-faking to get an open view. Her shot was just off to the right. After Thorp got the offensive rebound, NIU called timeout with nine ticks left. Thorp would end up getting an open shot from the top of the key but it was just long and Yohn grabbed the rebound with a second left, securing the win with two free throws after a foul.
"Our defense kept us in the game," said NIU Head Coach Kathi Bennett. "We were pretty poor offensively but I thought we competed the whole game. The disappointing thing is the last two possessions for Bradley we defended really well but then broke down [late in the possession]. That's hard because we didn't adjust. Overall, I thought the effort level was tremendous. We just had a hard time putting the ball in the basket.
"We are going to learn. It's a loss, but the effort and intensity is there. We are going to get better offensively."
In the first half, Bradley used a 4-for-12 effort from three point land to take a 24-18 lead into the half. But in the second half, the NIU defense clamped down on the Braves' perimeter game by holding BU to just 2-for-9 shooting.
For the game, NIU held Bradley to just 31 percent shooting from the field, but the Huskies only managed to shoot 28 percent themselves.
Yohn led all scorers with 16. Alicia Johnson (Chicago/Von Steuben) paced NIU with a career-high 11, adding five rebounds and two assists. Corral also reached double digits with 10, turning in seven rebounds and three assists.
The loss puts an end to a positive 2-1 season-long home stand for NIU after a double-overtime win over Western Illinois and six-point victory over Temple, a 2010-11 NCAA Tournament team.
"I'm proud that they had consistent effort [over the home stand]," said Bennett. "It's exciting because we have Satavia Taylor who will be eligible soon. The depth we will have will pay dividends once we get to the conference season."
The Huskies next head to Normal, Ill., to take on Illinois State on Saturday, Nov. 26, at 4 PM CT.