70, NORTHERN ILLINOIS 60
IL---Khara Smith scored 24 points and Jenni Dant added 20 to lead
DePaul past Northern Illinois 70-60 in non-conference women's basketball
action here Saturday (Jan. 3).
The Blue Demons---ranked
20th in the nation according to the latest Associated Press poll---scored
the game's first 19 points and never looked back, improving to 12-1
overall with their fourth consecutive victory. Northern Illinois
dropped to 5-6 despite 17 points from Joi Scott (Reynoldsburg, OH).
canned a pair of three-pointers in the opening 3:23, fueling DU's
quick start. The visitors hit seven of their first 10 shots---including
four tri-lighters---before Jennifer Youngblood (Rock Island) finally
got NIU on the scoreboard with a lay-up 5:31 into the contest. The
Huskies chipped away at the lead, drawing to within eight points
(24-16) on a Mary Basic (Lemont / Chicago Heights Marian Catholic)
basket 6:18 before intermission and trailed 34-24 at the break.
we didn't come out ready to play," Northern Illinois coach
Carol Hammerle admitted. "Give credit to DePaul. They hit a
lot of shots early. At halftime, we were within ten and felt like
we had weathered the storm. Then we came out and executed much better
in the second half."
The Blue Demons
scored the first four points of the second half and built the cushion
back to 16 points when Dant stole a Huskie pass and converted a
lay-up to stake DePaul to a 45-29 advantage. Northern Illinois never
got closer than ten in the second half, although Scott tallied 15
points in the final 20 minutes as NIU played DePaul to a 36-36 standoff
after the break.
not play the final 10:18 after a collision in the lane which sent
the Rock Island native crashing to the floor. She finished with
six points and a game-high 13 rebounds while Secrest tallied 11
points for the Huskies. Freshman guard Stephanie Raymond (Rockford
/ Lutheran) had nine points plus a season-high ten rebounds, four
assists and three steals, coming back from a six-turnover first
half to commit just one miscue in the second period.
first half, it was all the little mistakes that put us down by ten
points. Turnovers and missed shots," Raymond said. "At
halftime, my head was down, but my teammates picked me up and we
worked our butts off in the second half."
led the nation in scoring averaging 93.8 points per game, managed
to shoot just 34 percent (19-of-56) from the floor and missed its
final 17 shots behind the arc to finish at four-of-23. But the Blue
Demons made 28 of 33 free throws, including 18 of 22 in the second
half. Dant made all 12 of her attempts.
Luke and Charlene
Smith rounded out a quartet of double-figure scorers with 13 points
apiece. The five Blue Demon starters scored all 70 of the team's
points, with 24 of NIU's points coming from the reserves.
was most pleased with was that we held them to 34 percent,"
Hammerle added. "DePaul is a good team, so that's a pretty
amazing accomplishment. If we had done a better job taking care
of the ball and not given up 33 free throws
You can't defend
that. We played 35 good minutes tonight, if we could eliminate the
actually made six more baskets than DU, shooting 43.1 percent (25-of-58)
from the floor including Scott's eight-of-14 performance. The Huskies
also claimed a 41-32 rebounding edge but attempted only nine charity
tosses---making seven---and committed a season-high 25 turnovers
leading to 27 Blue Demon points.
NIU faces an
unenviable task when the Mid-American Conference schedule starts
on Wednesday (Jan. 7). The Huskies begin the 16-game league slate
at Kalamazoo, MI, challenging defending league tournament champion
Western Michigan in a 7 p.m. (EST) tip-off.
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by Robert Hester