NIU season ends with 80-71 loss to Ball State in MAC women's basketball tournament


March 6, 2004


Box score

DeKALB, IL---What a difference four days can make. That much time after suffering an 82-62 loss at the Convocation Center in the regular-season finale, Ball State defeated homestanding Northern Illinois 80-71 in Saturday's (Mar. 6) opening round of the 2004 Kraft Mid-American Conference Championships.

Kate Endress led five Cardinals in double figures with 21 points as the Cardinals snapped a six-game skid, improving to 13-15 on the season. Ball State advances to the quarterfinals and faces top-seeded Miami (OH) on Wednesday at Cleveland's Gund Arena. Northern Illinois ends the season with a 12-16 record despite 18 points and a season-high 15 rebounds from Jennifer Youngblood (Rock Island).

"I was hoping we wouldn't be satisfied (with Tuesday's victory), and I felt Ball State was definitely more ready to play today," Huskie coach Carol Hammerle said. "Maybe they felt a little embarrassed about that game, and they were very aggressive. They really came at us defensively. We didn't handle that very well. We were better in the second half and were doing some good things, but we dug such a big hole."

BSU raced to a 21-11 lead after six and a half minutes, taking advantage of four early Huskie turnovers and riding the hot shooting of Dana Collins. The Ball State point guard hit three three-pointers in that span before Endress took over. Endress had 16 points at the break as the Cardinals took a 45-31 lead to the locker room.

That 14-point cushion came from the visitors' 50 percent (18-of-36) shooting, comapred to 36.4 percent (12-of-33) by the Huskies. Ball State also committed only two turnovers and scored 15 points off NIU's seven miscues.

Northern Illinois opened the second half on a 6-0 run, but Ball State regained control on two Johna Goff jumpers to establish a 56-41 advantage. The lead grew to 67-50 on Kelsey Corbin's eight-footer with 8:52 remaining before the Huskies made the first of two late runs. Monique Davis (Columbus, OH / Marion-Franklin) hit two free throws to cut the deficit to 70-62, capping a 12-3 flurry but two Cardinal buckets returned the margin to double figures.

NIU trailed 74-62 before Youngblood's basket started a 7-0 run. Fellow senior Lindsay Secrest (Bloomfield, IN) hit two free throws to bring Northern Illinois within 74-69 at the 1:22 mark, but that was as close as the Huskies would get. Hampton canned two charity tosses and Collins added four more in the final 32 seconds to secure the victory.

Ball State was only two-for-20 behind the arc in Tuesday's 82-62 Huskie victory, but went 11-of-22 from the tri-light zone on Saturday. That was part of the Cardinals' 28-of-63 (44.4 percent) overall shooting, while Ball State also made 13 of 14 free throws and committed only eight turnovers.

Northern Illinois matched its season-low with ten miscues but shot a mere 38.8 percent (26-of-67) from the floor including five-of-20 from three-point range. The Huskies also missed six of 20 free throws, spoiling a 45-35 rebounding advantage which featured Youngblood's 15 caroms.

"The early turnovers shook us up and it snowballed," Hammerle added. "After you turn it over, you just have to let it go. We didn't do that. We're an emotional team, and they (Ball State) took it to us today. They came here ready to play."

The senior forward ends her career with 1,010 boards, putting her fourth in NIU history. She became the fifth player in MAC annals to reach four figures with a carom 91 seconds before halftime. Youngblood also stands tenth on the school's all-time scoring list with 1,453 points.

Davis and Secrest added 14 and 11 points, respectively, with Secrest's total giving her 1,092 in a Northern Illinois uniform. The fourth member of NIU's senior class---Stephanie Smith (Huntley / Hampshire)---tallied six points in her final collegiate contest. Her two three-pointers give her 83 in her career, tying Smith for sixth place in school history. Secrest is second on that list, canning her 190th career triple Saturday.

Freshman guard Stephanie Raymond (Rockford / Lutheran) was the fourth Huskie in double figures with 14 points, but Ball State's balanced scoring featured 19 points from Collins plus 15 from Goff. Kelsey Corbin and Jessica Reiter added 11 and ten, respectively, for the victors.

-30- -- Copy by Robert Hester



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