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GO HUSKIES
GO HUSKIES

GO HUSKIES

February 3, 2004

WESTERN MICHIGAN 79, NORTHERN ILLINOIS 69

Box score

DeKALB, IL---Casey Rost's 32 points led the way as Western Michigan defeated Northern Illinois 79-69 in Mid-American Conference women's basketball action Tuesday (Feb. 3).

Four Broncos scored in double figures as WMU climbed to 13-7 overall and 8-1 in the MAC. Freshman point guard Stephanie Raymond's (Rockford / Lutheran) career-high 19 points weren't enough to prevent the Huskies from falling to 9-11 on the season and sliding to 4-5 in conference play.

Western Michigan scored the first 11 points of the game and raced to a 29-10 advantage on Rost's third three-point field goal at the ten-minute mark of the first half. Rost had 13 of those points, forcing Northern Illinois to play catch-up for most of the evening. The hosts responded with a 17-7 run to close the half as Monique Davis' (Columbus, OH / Marion-Franklin) jumper just before the horn trimmed the deficit to nine points at 36-27.

"I felt like we were really flat coming out tonight," Northern Illinois coach Carol Hammerle said. "When a team shoots the three as well as Western Michigan did at the start, it seems to deflate us and it takes us a while to re-focus."

A Kelly Koerber lay-up two minutes into the second half pushed the visitors' advantage to 42-32, but Northern Illinois scored the next ten points and pulled even on a Stephanie Smith (Huntley / Hampshire) tri-lighter with 14:17 remaining. Maria Jilian ended a 4:06 drought by the Broncos moments later, but Davis countered with a pair of free throws and added a lay-up on NIU's next possession to give the Huskies their first lead of the night at 46-44. That advantage was short lived, however, as Rost answered with another trey to give WMU a lead it would not relinquish.

Rost's triple started an 8-0 flurry buy the visitors with Lori Crisman's free throw stretching the lead to 52-46. Northern Illinois closed to within one point on two occasions---the last coming at 57-56 after two Davis charity tosses---but Western Michigan tallied seven unanswered points to take command. The lead grew to 73-63 on Carrie Moore's three-point play with 3:22 remaining. NIU closed to within four points (73-69) in the final minute but could get no closer as Rost canned four free throws and Jen Doyle added a pair to produce the final margin.

"I credit my team for battling back from 19 points down and taking the lead. They never gave up tonight," Hammerle noted. "We took the lead but then we gave the ball up right away by not being smart. It all comes down to the little things. We need to execute better and take care of the basketball. We were tentative against their press and turned the ball over too many times."

Rost---who also scored 32 in Western Michigan's 70-63 victory in Kalamazoo, MI, on Jan. 7---hit six three-pointers on eight-of-17 shooting from the field and was a perfect ten-of-ten at the free throw line. Crisman and Koerber added 13 and 12 points, respectively, with Moore providing 11. WMU shot 45.6 percent (26-of-57) from the field and made all but one of its 21 free throw attempts.

Raymond countered with four treys among her season-high point total, along with four assists. Joi Scott (Reynoldsburg, OH) registered the fourth double-double of her career with 18 points (on eight-of-11 shooting from the floor) and a game-high ten rebounds, while Smith matched her season-high with 12 points on five-of-nine accuracy including a pair of three-pointers. Northern Illinois shot 50 percent (25-of-50) from the floor with six treys but could not overcome 22 turnovers, which led to 24 Bronco points.

"We did some good things offensively tonight, shooting the ball well and getting good looks," Hammerle added. "Joi had a great game inside. She was playing really tough tonight."

Northern Illinois hits the road for a pair of games, beginning Saturday (Feb. 7) with a 7 p.m. contest against West Division rival Ball State.

-30- -- Copy by Robert Hester