Ebony Ellis scored 15 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, and Marke Freeman scored 28 points as the Northern Illinois women’s basketball team defeated Miami (Ohio), 71-64, Sunday at the Convocation Center.
The Huskies picked up their second straight win to improve to 8-11 and 2-4 in Mid-American Conference play. Miami (Ohio) lost for the second time in a row, falling to 10-9, with a 2-4 record in league games.
Though she fouled out with 1:31 left, Ellis made a series of clutch plays. With the Huskies up four and 3:38 left, she rebounded a miss by Miami’s leading scorer Courtney Osborn, and followed with a critical offensive rebound. The second board led to a baseline jumper by Freeman that put NIU on top by six. One play later, Ellis nailed a shot to give the Huskies an eight-point lead with 2:29 left.
Perhaps Ellis’ worth was best proven by her absence. She fouled out immediately after her last bucket, and Miami followed her exit with a 5-0 spurt to cut the lead to 65-62. But the Huskies made four of their 23 free throws over the last 90 seconds, and Freeman made another late jumper to help NIU seal the win.
“(We) were focused throughout,” Bennett said. “That’s something we’re learning in MAC play. Our intensity level and focus continue to get better, and that’s an exciting thing.”
NIU got off to another good defensive start, holding the RedHawks to just six points over the first 9:12. The Huskies led by eight, 19-11, before Miami made its strongest push of the game. The RedHawks went on an 11-0 run that included five points from Maggie Boyer to take a three-point lead. Ellis initiated the Huskie response by scoring four consecutive points. Those buckets catalyzed a 9-4 run that put NIU on top 28-26 at halftime, a lead it would never relinquish.
Boyer paced the RedHawks with 18 points, and was joined in double-figures by three teammates: Kirsten Olowinski with 14, and 11 each from Rachael Hencke and Courtney Osborn.
Freeman’s 28 points came on the heels of a 30-point game against Ball State. She added seven rebounds, one assist and one steal in 39 minutes. Sophomore Kim Davis added nine points and six rebounds, while Courtney Shelton had eight points, four boards and four assists.
“The old saying goes `success softens’ – we can’t let that happen.,” Bennett said.
The Huskies return to action at Kent State, Wednesday, Jan. 26 at 6 p.m. NIU will be looking for its first three-game MAC winning streak since 2008-09. For more information on NIU women’s basketball and Huskie athletics logon to NIUhuskies.com.