80, NORTHERN ILLINOIS 71
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
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).
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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by Robert Hester