Comes Off Bench to Spark NIU Women's Basketball MAC Road Victory
OH --- Keishonda Williamson*s scoring explosion off the bench sparked
the Northern Illinois University women*s basketball squad to a 75-61
Mid-American Conference road victory over the University of Akron
Wednesday (Jan. 25) night at the James A. Rhoades Arena.
MI / Martin Luther King) --- who entered the game having scored
11 points over eight contests --- chalked up a team-best 19 points,
17 of which came in the second half to help the Huskies improve
to 7-10 overall and even their league ledger at 3-3. UA*s Zips,
who led by eight (39-31) at halftime, remained winless in six Mid-Am
games and dropped to 3-14 overall with a sixth straight setback.
*We did not
play well in the first half,* NIU coach Carol Owens admitted. *We
lacked the effort and the heart we usually have. Ke-Ke was the spark
we needed. She showed a lot of drive and determination. That*s why
she started the second half. We didn*t necessarily do a lot of things
that much better in the second half, but we did it with guts.*
Illinois opened the contest using its height advantage for an early
6-2 lead, Akron caught fire and opened up a series of double-digit
leads, twice owning 11-point advantages. The hosts hit an impressive
54.2 percent (13-of-24) from the floor, including 6-of-10 from beyond
the arch. Courtney Stewart and Jessie Crooks were the one-two scoring
punch for UA. Stewart hit 4-of-6 treys as part of a 5-of-7 effort.
Crooks matched her 14-point output by nailing 6-of-7 field goals,
including 2-of-3 tri-lighters.
finish the night with a game-high 21 points plus a team-best seven
rebounds while Stewart was right behind with 20 points. However,
Northern Illinois countered that with a 36-8 advantage in bench
points, obviously fueled by Williamson*s stellar showing. The senior
guard erased her previous career-best of 14 set last season against
ex-MAC member Marshall University on Jan. 15, 2005. She was a perfect
6-of-6 from the floor including a pair of three-pointers. In addition,
her 5-of-8 performance at the free throw line included making five
of six over the last 59 seconds of the contest to help NIU preserve
Akron was still
clinging to a five-point advantage, 42-37, two minutes into the
second half when Northern Illinois went on a 15-3 run that included
solid bench contributions from Nikita Odom (Hazel Crest / Country
Club Hills Hillcrest) and Jamie Wilson (Reynoldsburg, OH). A Stephanie
Raymond (Rockford / Lutheran) lay-up at 11:21 would give NIU an
eight-point edge before the Zips rallied to within one, 56-55, with
8:26 to play.
three-pointers by Williamson and a Raymond jumper would ultimately
help NIU build a large lead of nine, 70-61, with 2:42 left.
Although Raymond registered her 23rd consecutive double-digit performance
with 16 points, she struggled some as evidenced by a 5-of-12 shooting
touch that included going 0-for-4 from three-point range. The junior
guard hit 6-of-9 at the foul line and accounted for five of NIU*s
six steals while also dishing off four assists. In addition to her
team-best 19, Williamson led the Huskies in assists with five and
also notched her first block of the season to go with three boards.
(Apple Valley, MN / Academy of Holy Angels) was the third Northern
Illinois player in double figures with 10 along with six boards.
Jennifer Uptmor (Centerville, OH) had six points and registered
a game-best nine caroms to help NIU outboard Akron by a 43-27 tally.
Wilson finished with eight points while Odom added another seven.
Jamie did a real good job helping out when Jen and Kristin got into
a little foul trouble,* Owens noted. *Stephanie was feeling the
pressure to score for us, but what we really need is her leadership.
And that*s what we got from her in the second half. We were a lot
more aggressive as a team in the second half and took a lot more
pride in our defense. We outrebounded them and got some charges
that we needed in order to get some stops.*
With 10 MAC
games remaining in the regular season * including six at home starting
with Saturday*s 2:05 p.m. tilt versus Ohio University * the Huskies
are counting on surpassing the victory tally from last year*s 7-21
campaign that included a 4-12 league standard.
home is actually part of a doubleheader of sorts. The morning begins
with an 11 a.m. NIU Alumnae contest which is followed by a reception
for the participants and former Huskies in attendance. Those former
Northern Illinois women cagers will also be recognized at halftime
of the contest with Ohio.
information, please contact Steve Nemeth) NIU