After reaching overtime for the first time since Feb. 28, 2012, the Northern Illinois women’s basketball team won 68-59 after outscoring Toledo by a margin of 14-5 during the extra period.
Coach Kathi Bennett’s team secured its first overtime win since November 2011 versus Western Illinois.
The Huskies’ (9-16, 5-10 MAC) win over the Rockets (13-13, 8-7 MAC) was their first since Feb. 26, 2011, at the Convocation Center. NIU outscored Toledo 28-12 in the final 11 minutes of the game, including overtime.
Junior Amanda Corral (Hobart, Ind./Hobart) led all-scorers in the game with 20 points, but Alexis Lindstrom (Howards Grove, Wis./Howards Grove) was NIU’s hot shooter from the bench as she accounted for 14 points, going 4-for-5 behind the three-point line, while Jazmine Harris (West Allis, Wis./Heritage Christian) scored 12. The Huskies’ bench outscored Toledo’s, 26-9.
“I thought we showed incredible toughness down, seven points with under six minutes to go. We had a chance to win it and stayed tough to play fearless in overtime to get the win. I was really proud of the team,” Bennett said in the postgame press conference.
NIU led for 19:47 in the first half, building a 12-point lead halfway through the frame, before surrendering its first lead as Ana Capotosto sunk a layup with 40 seconds left on the clock. A three-pointer by Lindstrom 13 seconds later, her first of the game, put the Huskies back on top of the Rockets heading into halftime, 26-24.
Momentum began to shift towards Toledo after the first media timeout in the second half as it reclaimed the lead 40 seconds after the break at 15:02. While the Huskies again reclaimed the lead, Toledo grabbed it right back and pushed its lead up to five with 12:31 left in the second half.
The resiliency of the Huskies was illustrated shortly thereafter as it went on a 5-0 run to tie the game at 38-38 on a trey by Lindstrom and a jump shot by Corral at 8:51. It was at that point where the Rockets built their largest lead of the game, 47-40, as Andola Dortch hit a jump shot with 6:24 left in the game.
In the final six minutes of the period, the Huskies outscored Toledo, 14-7, as NIU accounted for eight points in the paint.
Danny Pulliam (Indianapolis, Ind./Pike), with shades of the two teams’ last meeting Jan. 9, converted a layup with 23 seconds left in the game that gave NIU a 54-52 lead, but Dortch hustled down the floor to tie it back up, 54-54 with 8.1 seconds left. Corral had the last attempt at a shot but was unable to get a shot off before the horn sounded for the end of regulation.
Northern Illinois was red hot in overtime as its offense and defense clicked at the right time to create separation from the Rockets. NIU was 4-of-7 from the field, including 2-of-2 from behind the arc, while the Huskies held the Rockets to 1-of-11 (.091) in overtime.
“I think we took the open shots and played with no fear, which I know may sound simple, but I said to the team, ‘We have nothing to lose, so let’s go for it and take it,’ and we did,” Bennett said. “We took good shots and we stayed aggressive.”
The win snapped a six-game winless streak for Northern Illinois and placed the Huskies in eighth place in the Mid-American Conference – ahead of Eastern Michigan, NIU’s opponent Sunday afternoon in Ypsilanti.
Corral accounted for eight points in the first half and seven more in the second half, finishing with five points in overtime to account for her 20 points in the game. It was the third-straight game and the seventh this season in which she’s accounted for 20-or-more points in a game.
Lindstrom’s 5-for-7 performance from the field was her best since going 5-of-8 against Lamar on November 30 at New Mexico State. In the last six games, she is 18-of-39 from behind the arc for a clip of .461. Harris’ 12 clams marked the second-straight game and the sixth this season she accounted for 10-or-more points off the bench.
Toledo’s Inma Zanoguera recorded a double-double in the contest, grabbing 10 rebounds and scoring 10 points in the effort, while Dortch led the Rockets’ scorers with 14.
The Huskies defense held the Rockets to 59 points in the game, the second-straight game UT has been held below 60-points in a game. The Rockets out rebounded NIU, 41-35, marking the first time this season the Huskies have earned victory when grabbing fewer rebounds than its opponents. Northern Illinois is now an even 6-6 at the Convocation Center this season.
NIU will return to action Sunday, March 2, at the EMU Convocation when the Huskies take on Eastern Michigan. Tipoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. Central.
For more information on NIU women’s basketball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.