Dec. 28, 2008
Carbondale, Ill. - After trailing for a majority of the game, the Northern Illinois women's basketball team surged late in the second half to claim a 67-55 victory over downstate rival Southern Illinois (4-5) on Sunday afternoon at SIU Arena.
"We played a lot of people in the first half, trying to get people going," said NIU head coach Carol Owens. "In the second half, Jessie Wilcox and Kylie York played well. Ebony Ellis got in foul trouble and Becky Smith and Mauvolyene Adams filled in well. Jessie and kylie stepped up big when we needed them to make shots for us down the stretch."
With the game knotted, 45-45, late in the second half, junior Kylie York (Fishers, Ind./Hamilton Southeastern) hit the first of her three treys in the final six minutes of the game with 5:41 left, giving NIU (5-7) its largest lead of the game at the time. Then after an SIU miss, York grabbed the rebound and later in the possession bulleted a pass down low to a wide open Becky Smith (Janesville, Wis./Parker) for a lay-up to give NIU a 50-45 advantage with five minutes remaining.
"I think our trainer, Natalie Meckstroth, was MVP of this game because Kylie had issues with her back and was doubtful for the game, but Natalie got her ready to play," said Owens. "Kylie can play the one and two positions which helps with passing and execution. Sometimes we have three point guards on the court with Marke Freeman, Jessie and Kylie. They know each other well and are stepping up with leadership. The execution down the stretch was great. I couldn't ask anymore from them."
After a jumper from SIU's Katrina Swingler, senior Jessie Wilcox (Oshkosh, Wis./West) made a three to increase the Huskie lead once again, 53-47, with 4:25 left. Then, York finished off the Salukis with back-to-back threes, putting NIU up 59-51 with 2:09 to go.
"They played a lot of zone because they were worried with our post game, but when we hit as well as Kylie and Jessie were, you force teams out of zone and in to man-to-man which helped Becky get that lay-up," Owens said.
The Huskies outscored the Salukis 43-30 in the second half, led by York, who scored 14 of her game-high 17 points in the final half. After going 3-11 in the first half from the arc, NIU went 5-8 in the second half en route to victory.
NIU trailed by one at half, 25-24, after a 9-1 run erased a 24-15 SIU lead in which Wilcox tallied five points during the run, including a three to tie the game, 24-24, with seven seconds left.
For the game, NIU scored 15 points off 20 SIU turnovers and received 32 points from the bench, while the Salukis only had 12.
"We wanted to play a full court game in the second half," said Owens. "We wanted to use fullcourt pressure to take 10 to 12 seconds off the shot clock to force them to rush their offense, which helped us a lot."
Two other Huskies reached double-digits as Wilcox scored 13 points along with a season-best eight assists and Smith notched season-highs with 12 points and seven rebounds. Sophomore Mauvolyene Adams (Bolingbrook, Ill./Bolingbrook) led NIU with 12 boards, while also scoring nine points.
Erica Smith led the Salukis with 17 points and nine rebounds.
The Huskies return to action on January 3 with a home contest against Chicago State at 2 p.m. CST.