Huskies can't overcome early deficit in 79-65 loss at DePaul



December 18, 2002


Box score

ROSEMONT, IL---Ashley Luke scored a game-high 24 points and DePaul withstood a strong second-half rally to defeat Northern Illinois, 79-65, in non-conference women’s college basketball action here Wednesday (Dec. 18).

Five Blue Demons scored in double figures as DePaul improved to 8-3 overall, defeating Northern Illinois for the ninth consecutive season. NIU dropped to 3-5 on the season despite 17 points from Kristan Knake (Marengo).

Luke hit five of 12 shots from the field including four three-pointers and canned all ten of her free throw attempts. The work at the line kept DU control after the Huskies had trimmed a 20-point deficit to five with 2:53 to play but could get no closer.

Jenni Dant’s jumper with 8:30 remaining established a 66-46 cushion before Northern Illinois launched a frantic comeback. Knake hit consecutive baskets and Lindsay Secrest (Bloomfield, IN) nailed two three-pointers during the Huskies’ run. The second of those brought NIU to within 68-60 and a Kim Boeding (Fort Madison, IA) free throw shaved the margin to 68-63. Northern Illinois forced a Blue Demon turnover but could not take advantage and managed only two Boeding free throws the rest of the way.

Khara Smith stemmed the tide with two free throws and Dant added a jumper to stretch the margin back to 73-63. Luke then hit four free throws and Jamie Smith added two in the final 1:11 to seal the victory.
The Blue Demons took control midway through the first half, using a 20-4 streak to erase the Huskies’ 13-11 advantage. Consecutive three-pointers from Knake and Monique Davis (Columbus, OH / Marion-Franklin) established that two-point margin for NIU, but the Huskies managed only two baskets over the next 7:55. DU’s Jamie Smith connecting for a 31-20 lead with 4:52 left in the half. DePaul sustained the momentum, carrying a 38-26 advantage into intermission on the strength of 58.3 percent (14-of-24) shooting from the field.

NIU remains winless in five road games this season, with the lone victory away from DeKalb coming in the form of a 78-72 neutral-site triumph over San Jose State University on Nov. 30. The Huskies have won both home dates this season but are permitting 73.4 points per game on the road while scoring just 63.8 per outing.

“We aren’t playing well on the road,” Northern Illinois coach Carol Hammerle admitted. ““We seem to battle ourselves more than our opponents. Early in the game we were so tentative. We hesitated a lot and had three or four traveling calls because of that hesitation.”

Knake had 12 points after the break but NIU could not recover from 22 turnovers and DU’s 25-of-30 shooting at the free throw line. Northern Illinois shot 60 percent (12-of-20) from the floor in the second half and a season-best 50 percent (22-of-44) overall, with Jennifer Youngblood (Rock Island) contributing 11 points and Boeding tallying 10. Secrest collected nine points off the bench, hitting three of four shots behind the three-point line.

“Lindsay played big tonight,” Hammerle said. “She came in off the bench and we were a little flat. She hit two big threes, and we got into a flow to make the comeback attempt. We made the big run and then on our next possession we had a turnover and missed a free throw. We couldn’t recover after that.”

“But any time you play a good team like DePaul, you can’t commit 22 turnovers and give up 30 free throw attempts,” the Huskie boss added. “That makes it very tough to win. DePaul played very smart defensively. They anticipated well and came out to get passes. We didn’t.”

DePaul finished at 48 percent (24-of-50) from the floor with Dant and Jamie Smith each pouring 13 points. Charlene Smith added 11 and Khara Smith had ten for the victors.

Northern Illinois attempts to retain its perfect record in the Convocation Center on Friday (Dec. 20) when Bradley University comes to DeKalb for a 7:05 p.m. (CST) contest.

-30- --- Copy by Robert Hester



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