Northern Illinois led or was tied with Northern Iowa for 39:46 of the game Saturday afternoon at the NIU Convocation Center but a backdoor layup by the Panthers’ Brittni Donaldson with 2.7 seconds left on the clock secured UNI’s victory, 66-64.
The Huskies (4-5) made three more field goals than the Panthers (4-7) in the contest, 27-24, and outscored UNI in the paint, 42-22, while also out rebounding them, 36-28.
“I felt like we beat ourselves today,” said head coach Kathi Bennett. “Our unforced turnovers down the stretch led to us fading out. It’s disappointing. I thought we broke through that learning how to win barrier. We have to play incredibly hard and scrappy, and be able to defensively lockdown to win games.”
Starting the first half with only six points, junior Amanda Corral (Hobart, Ind./Hobart) scored 12 points in the second half to finish with 18 points for NIU. Corral was 6-for-11 from the field and 6-for-6 at the free throw line. She also added five rebounds, three assists and a steal.
Freshman Jazmine Harris (West Allis, Wis./Heritage Christian), who entered the game with career-high of eight points, almost doubled that effort against the Panthers as she scored 15 points off the bench. Danny Pulliam (Indianapolis, Ind./Pike) contributed 12 points, seven rebounds and three assists.
The Huskies carried a 32-25 advantage at the half and only allowed the Panthers to shoot .345 from the field (10-29). Northern Illinois also out rebounded Northern Iowa in the frame 26-13. A layup by Harris with 2:24 remaining in the stanza gave NIU its largest lead of the game at 11 points. She led all scorers in first half with 10 points and did so in only nine minutes of action.
In the second period, the Panthers took advantage of their three-point shooting ability as they shot 7-of-13 (.538) from behind the arc in the half. UNI finished 10-of-26 (.384) in the game.
Corral commanded the floor for Northern Illinois in the second stanza as she worked around the Panthers defense, thanks to set screens by the NIU post players. She slashed her way to 12 points in the frame and helped the Huskies maintain a two-possession lead while UNI sank its three point shots to cut away at the Huskie lead.
Hannah Schonhardt was Northern Iowa’s hero Saturday as she scored 16 points in the second half, shooting 6-for-7 from the field and 2-for-3 from behind the arc. With 2:12 left on the clock, she hit a trey to tie the game, 62-62, to finish the game with 24 points. Two free throws by Stephanie Davidson gave UNI its first lead with 35 seconds remaining.
The Huskies worked quickly down the court and with Pulliam and Corral controlling the perimeter passing, it was Corral who rifled a pass through a narrow window of Panther Purple to Augusta’s right hand that allowed NIU to tie it back up, 64-64, as Augusta painted the glass with a layup at the 24 second mark. Northern Iowa would let the clock wind down to four seconds before finding Donaldson, who went for the wraparound, right handed layup on the baseline to give UNI its final lead with 2.7 seconds left.