Close matches don't fall way of Huskie Women's Tennis during 5-2 home loss to Xavier (2/12)



February 12, 2005


Box Score

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).


Game Notes:
--- The 68 points scored by Northern Illinois Saturday (Feb. 12) are a season-high.

--- Stephanie 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.

--- Kristin 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.