Carries Western Michigan to MAC Triumph over NIU Women
KALAMAZOO, MI --- Led by a red-hot Casey Rost, Western Michigan
University jumped out to a 23-point halftime lead and held on for
a 78-65 Mid-American Conference victory over the visiting Northern
Illinois University women*s basketball squad Wednesday (Jan. 18)
Rost, who spent
last year on the sideline and received a medical red-shirt season,
scored 22 of her game-high 29 points in the opening 20 minutes.
The 5-9 senior guard nailed 5-of-6 three-pointers in the first half
to spark the Broncos to a better shooting percentage (.643 / 9-of-14)
from beyond the arch than from the floor (.633 / 19-of-30). Western
Michigan, which played one of the Mid-American Conference*s most
rugged non-conference schedules, improved to 5-10 overall and 2-2
for loop play.
Northern Illinois, which was hoping for a three-game win streak,
slipped to 6-9 overall while the Mid-Am ledger also levelled off
*It wasn*t our
best defensive effort,* first-year NIU head coach Carol Owens admitted.
*That*s something we should always be able to take pride in. Unfortunately,
we just didn*t come as ready as we needed to be tonight.*
After an initial
5-2 Huskie lead, Western Michigan started to catch fire with a quick
10-0 run. Despite being outshot, Northern Illinois remained in range
trailing by seven, 32-25, with 7:18 left before halftime. However,
Rost used an old-fashioned three-point play plus a trio of three-pointers
to chalk up 14 points in a 16-0 Bronco stampede. Two seasons ago,
Rost was a similar thorn in the Huskies* side as she scored 32 in
a 79-69 victory in DeKalb. In that game, she fired in 6-of-11 threes
as part of an 8-of-17 shooting performance coupled with a perfect
10-for-10 at the charity stripe.
At WMU*s University
Arena, she finished with 29 by hitting 5-of-7 threes as part of
a 10-of-14 field goal night coupled with 4-of-4 at the foul line.
Rost also added four rebounds, three assists, a block and three
steals to the Western Michigan cause. Teammate Amanda Parker was
next in line with 13 while Carrie Moore added 11 for the hosts.
did start the second half with an 8-0 run sparked by consecutive
three-pointers from Mary Basic (Lemont / Chicago Heights Marian
Catholic). However, Western Michigan answered that with seven straight
and the Huskies* fortunes took an even more drastic turn when MAC
West Division Player of the Week and NIU scoring leader Stephanie
Raymond (Rockford / Lutheran) hit the deck hard during a very physical
contest. After being helped to the sideline and having her back
iced, the 5-5 junior returned late in the game and managed to keep
her string of double-figure performances going at 22 straight with
a late lay-up that closed the gap to 13 at the end of regulation.
doesn*t play well, that really hurts. She*s an integral part of
our team * the point guard and the leading scorer; those are both
important roles,* Owens noted. *She takes control of games, but
when she doesn*t, it really hurts our execution.
*We told them
they (the Broncos) were gonig to be physical, but we didn*t handle
it very well. We needed to keep attacking and we didn*t. If you
don*t attack, then you allow Western to keep up the intensity,*
could connect on only two three-pointers during a 4-of-17 night
from the floor, backcourt mate Basic had her best outing of the
year with a 15-point performance that matched her previous career-best
set Feb. 19, 2005 at Ohio University. The 5-10 junior also equalled
her single-game best for threes for a fourth time by hitting 3-of-4
from beyond the arch as part of an overall 6-of-9 evening.
(Apple Valley, MN / Academy of Holy Angels) added eight points and
snared a game-high seven rebounds to help the Huskies own a slight
38-36 edge on the boards. Northern Illinois did get some bench help
from Keishonda Williamson (Detroit, MI / Martin Luther King) and
Whitney Lowe (Bushnell / Bushnell-Prairie City), both of whom hit
2-of-4 threes as part of contributions of eight and seven, respectively.
Illinois outscored WMU 38-28 for the final 20 minutes, NIU*s 36.7
shooting percentage (22-of-60) was still well below the Broncos
who cooled off enough to finish at 48.1 percent (26-of-54). The
Huskies, who were playing their 10th game away from DeKalb within
15 contests, can look forward to having seven of the remaining 12
MAC dates back at the Convocation Center. That stretch begins Saturday
when NIU hosts Ball State University at 4:05 p.m. in the second
half of doubleheader which begins at 1:05 p.m. with Northern Illinois*
men welcoming Kent State University.
Coach Joe Novak*s
Huskie football squad will be presented their MAC West Division
plaque during intermission of the men*s game and will be on hand
between games for a meet and greet session with the fans. A single
$5 admission ticket will be good for both games in the twinbill.
information, please contact Steve Nemeth) NIU