FINAL SCORE: MIAMI (OH) 71, NORTHERN ILLINOIS 68
Motto's hot hand leads late comeback as Miami
hands NIU Women's Basketball 71-68 home loss
DeKALB, IL---Despite holding the lead for the game's first 33-plus
minutes, the Northern Illinois University women's basketball team
could not overcome the hot shooting of Miami (OH) University guard
Nicki Motto, who eventually led the RedHawks back and allowed the
visitors to hand the Huskies a 71-68 loss in Mid-American Conference
action Saturday (Feb. 12).
Motto scored 14 of her team-high 19 markers after halftime including
three clutch three-pointers in the game's final 5:06 to help MU
overcome what was an eight-point second-half deficit and give NIU
its sixth consecutive loss. The Huskies fall to 6-16 on the season
with a 3-8 mark in the MAC. Miami improves to 11-11 with its second
straight victory and pulls closer to .500 in the conference at 5-6.
The loss soured a pair of career performances by the Huskies. Stephanie
Raymond (Rockford, IL / Lutheran) and Kristin Wiener
(Apple Valley, MN) scored 24 points each to lead the way for NIU.
Raymond matched her career-high with the 24 tallies while Wiener
tied a school record by making 12-of-12 free throws on her way to
setting a new career scoring standard of her own.
Together, the duo scored 22 of NIU's first 32 points to lead the
Huskies to a 32-26 halftime advantage. The hosts scored the first
six points of the contest to take control early and saw their lead
extend as high as eight (32-24) on a Wiener free throw with 56 seconds
remaining before the half.
Despite an early second-half push from the RedHawks---who trimmed
the lead down to one (32-31) on Motto's first three-pointer with
17:53 left---the Huskies were able to hold an eight-point lead (47-39)
all the way to the 12:40 mark on a pair of Jennifer Uptmor
(Centerville, OH / Centerville) free throws. Over the next 3:35,
however, MU engineered a 10-2 run to tie the game at 49-49---marking
the first time Miami had pulled even all day.
"There was that stretch in the second half when we got up by
eight," NIU head coach Carol Hammerle noted. "We
could have put them away at that point, and the outcome would have
been different. We didn't do that, and that turned out to be a crucial
turning point for us."
MU finally took its first lead of the contest at 54-53 on a Hillary
Beck lay-up with 6:27 remaining. The Huskies answered, retaking
a 55-54 advantage with two more Wiener free throws, and extended
that cushion to 56-54 with a charity toss by Raymond with 5:19 left.
That's when the Motto air assault began.
The RedHawk senior buried three-pointers on back-to-back possessions
including one from the left wing with 4:35 left that staked MU to
a 60-56 lead it would not relinquish. NIU tied the contest up twice
more, but Beck answered a pair of Wiener free throws at the 2:58
mark with a three before Motto hit another trifecta after Jamie
Wilson (Reynoldsburg, OH / Reynoldsburg) had knotted things
up at 64-64 with 1:49 left.
Wiener canned two more free throws with 48 seconds left to trim
the deficit to 67-66, but MU had an answer again as Amanda Jackson
came off a ball screen and hit a free throw line jumper to give
Miami a 69-66 lead. The Huskies had three shots from beyond the
arc on their next possession to tie the game, but missed all three,
allowing MU to gain control and close the game out.
"We are not making defensive stops when we need to," Hammerle
explained. "We have to pick it up a little bit and really become
a lot more intense than we have been. We need to focus on playing
better defense and making those stops."
The difference was made in the second half once again, as the Huskies
watched a halftime lead disappear for the seventh time in 11 MAC
games this season. MU shot .517 (15-of-29) after the break including
a 6-of-13 (.462) mark from three-point land. NIU, on the other hand,
hit at a .321 (9-of-28) clip and connected on just 2-of-7 tri-lighters
during the game's second 20 minutes.
The shooting cancelled out a 44-35 Huskie rebounding edge, led by
guard Rachel Sillar (Plainfield, IL / Plainfield) who grabbed
a career-high 11 boards. The senior also handed out a career-best
six assists while scoring two points and turning the ball over just
once in 28 minutes of action off the bench.
Sophomore Mary Basic (Lemont, IL / Chicago Heights Marian
Catholic) set a career-high of her own with eight rebounds while
Wilson nabbed seven caroms---including four on the offensive glass---to
go along with 13 points. In addition to Motto, Miami got 18 points
from Jackson on 7-of-19 shooting, and committed just 11 turnovers
as a team. Northern Illinois suffered 19 miscues which translated
into 17 RedHawk points.
Northern Illinois stays at home to continue MAC play Wednesday (Feb.
16). The University of Toledo comes to DeKalb looking to avenge
a 63-60 loss to the Huskies at Savage Hall back on Jan. 11. Tip-off
at NIU's Convocation Center is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. (CST).
--- The 68 points
scored by Northern Illinois Saturday (Feb. 12) are a season-high.
Raymond and Kristin Wiener became the first pair of Huskie
teammates to score 20 points or more in the same game since Joi
Scott and Jennifer Youngblood tallied 23 and 21 points, respectively
during a 73-72 win over Bowling Green on Feb. 1, 2003.
Wiener joined some elite company, joining Amanda Reese
(Mar. 6, 1997 vs. Butler) and Gena Stubbs (Jan. 24, 1987
at Illinois-Chicago) as the only players in Huskie history to go
12-for-12 from the free throw line in a single game.