December 4, 2002
69, NORTHERN ILLINOIS 64
Wilhite scored a game-high 31 points---including eight three-pointers---and
Wisconsin-Milwaukee staved off a furious second-half rally to defeat Northern
Illinois 69-64 in non-conference women's basketball action here Wednesday
Kristan Knake (Marengo)
scored 25 of her career-best 29 points in the second half, leading Northern
Illinois back from a 16-point deficit, but the Huskies' comeback attempt
fell short as Northern Illinois dropped to 2-3 on the season. Wisconsin-Milwaukee
improved to an identical 2-3 mark after defeating NIU for the fifth consecutive
The Panthers took
control of the game early as back-to-back triples from Wilhite started
a 12-0 run to give UWM a 16-4 lead just 4:31 into the contest. The margin
swelled to 15 points when Kimberly Becker's bucket created a 28-13 cushion
at the midpoint of the half and Northern Illinois could get no closer
than ten points before intermission, with Wisconsin-Milwaukee claiming
a 38-27 advantage at the break.
Wilhite scored all
12 of her first-half points behind the arc while fellow senior Maria Viall
controlled the paint. Viall (12 points) and Becker (six) combined to hit
eight of 13 shots in the opening 20 minutes, powering the Panthers to
53.6 percent (15-of-28) accuracy in the first half. The Huskies were just
13-of-33 (39.4 percent) from the field, with Lindsay Secrest (Bloomfield,
IN) hitting NIU's lone three-pointer.
Another Wilhite tri-lighter
stretched the lead to 43-27 before Knake answered for Northern Illinois.
Her jumper snapped a 4:02 drought to open the half and the senior guard
single-handedly kept the visitors in the contest. Knake had the Huskies'
first seven points of the second frame before her teammates joined the
scoring parade, and a Knake triple finished a 7-0 run, pulling Northern
Illinois to within 52-45 with seven minutes to play.
Viall canned one free
throw and Wilhite pounced on the rebound of the second attempt, burying
her seventh three-pointer to bring the margin back to double digits. Knake
stepped forward again with back-to-back treys, cutting the margin to 64-59
with 1:45 left but Wilhite hit two free throws and Viall's lay-up at the
one-minute mark gave the hosts a seemingly-safe 68-59 lead,
Knake split two defenders
for her fifth trey seven seconds later and hit another jumper after a
Wisconsin-Milwaukee turnover to pull the visitors within five points.
Joi Scott (Reynoldsburg, OH) intercepted the Panthers' inbounds pass but
missed a lay-up that would have trimmed the deficit to two points, and
Secrest's follow-up attempt also went awry. Wilhite's free throw with
seven-tenths of a second remaining for the final margin.
Knake was 12-of-20
from the field including five-of-seven behind the arc, equaling her collegiate
best of 29 points set at Miami (OH) University on Jan. 19, 2002. But her
teammates scored just 12 points after the break, with Jennifer Youngblood
(Rock Island) held to two points and three rebounds over the final 20
minutes. She finished with ten points and ten boards while Kim Boeding
(Fort Madison, IA) tallied eight points for the Huskies.
hard at both ends of the court and really kept us in the game in the second
half," NIU coach Carol Hammerle said. "She's got the ability
to do that, and I always feel we have to get back up against the wall
before we start doing things. Need to find some consistency on offensive
end, and need to re-group and be more focused defensively."
Wilhite was supported
by Viall's 17 points and 10 rebounds plus eight points from Becker. The
Panthers made only 10 of 26 shots in the second half (38.5) percent to
finish at 46.2 percent for the night, but out-rebounded Northern Illinois
37-27. Viall blocked five shots.
would say that two players can't beat a team. But Wilhite and Viall did
exactly that tonight," Hammerle admitted. "It's obvious that
(UWM's) players know their roles, and they played well as a team. Unfortunately,
we didn't play well the first five minutes and dug ourselves a hole. We
didn't come out with the intensity to make defensive stops. We played
with more intensity in the second half and our pressure got us going."
The Huskies employed
a full-court press for much of the second half, forcing 14 Panther turnovers
in the final 20 minutes after Wisconsin-Milwaukee had just five miscues
in the opening half.
committed a season-low 12 turnovers and shot 41.8 percent (28-of-67) for
the night but attempted only three free throws. NIU did not go to the
line in the first half, the second time in the Huskies' last three games
that has happened. Wisconsin-Milwaukee was 11-of-18 at the charity stripe.
The Huskies return
home Saturday (Dec. 7) to face instate rival Illinois State at the Convocation
Center. That 4:05 p.m. contest is NIU's first home date since the (Nov.
22) season-opener versus Wisconsin, and the lone DeKalb stop in a four-week
span prior to a (Dec. 20) contest versus Bradley.
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