NIU Falls to Hot Shooting Illinois State 81-62
Nov. 26, 2011
NORMAL, Ill.- The Northern Illinois women’s basketball team dropped an 81-62 decision to Illinois State at Redbird Arena on Saturday afternoon as ISU connected on 12 of 18 three-pointers. The win for the Redbirds (2-2) marks their fifth straight over the Huskies (2-3) and 22nd consecutive regular season victory at home.
The difference in the game was ISU’s red hot start. Just 2:44 into the contest the Redbirds built a 10-0 lead with help from two treys by Candace Sykes. A few minutes later, ISU made it a 17-0 start before Courtney Shelton (Rockford, Ill./Hononegah) hit a floating hook shot at the free throw line with 13:29 left in the first half to put NIU on the board. During the incredible beginning, ISU went 6-for-8 from the field, including 3-for-3 from 3-point land.
“We certainly did not come out ready to play,” said NIU Head Coach Kathi Bennett. “Illinois State is a really explosive team. Their guards can fly and shoot the three. Our ball pressure all night long was just very poor.”
NIU finally got its offense going near the end of the half as the Huskies outscored ISU 29-26 after the slow start. Down 38-20 with 2:59 left in the half, a layup by Natecia Augusta (Peoria, Ill./Limestone) and three point play by Ashley Sneed (Harvey, Ill./Thornton) cut the lead to 13. After an ISU free throw, Danny Pulliam (Indianapolis, Ind./Pike) hit a pull up jumper from the left baseline to bring the lead to 12. But the Redbirds would go into halftime with a 43-29 advantage as Marley Hall hit a jumper as the clock expired. In the half, the Redbirds shot an amazing 8-for-10 from behind the arc.
In the early goings of the second half, NIU continued to charge as Sneed nailed a floater from the left baseline to bring NIU within 10 points, 48-38, with 14:33 left. With the momentum starting to shift toward the Huskies, NIU had a chance to cut the lead to single digits after an ISU offensive foul but Alicia Johnson’s (Chicago/Von Steuben) three missed. The Redbirds then answered with their first two threes of the half to quickly put the lead at 16, 54-38, and suck the wind out of NIU’s run.
“They are a really good team,” Bennett said of the Redbirds. “They have good ball movement. I was disappointed that we did not contest more shots. They shot the ball phenomenally and are a good shooting team. They get a lot of credit for that.”
A few minutes later, a pair of free throws by Sykes gave ISU an 18-point edge with 6:29 left in the game, and the Huskies never got the lead under 15 for the rest of the game.
Sykes and Katie Broadway led ISU with 20 points apiece as each was 4-for-5 on 3-pointers.
Sneed led NIU with a career-high 14 points, eclipsing her previous high of 12 in the season opener at Loyola. Augusta also reached a season high with 12 in her first appearance since the opener.
On deck for the Huskies is a home game against Southern Illinois on Tuesday, Nov. 29, at 7 PM CT at the NIU Convocation Center.
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