The Northern Illinois women’sbasketball team dropped a heartbreaker to Bowling Green, 67-64, Tuesday night in Mid-American Conference play at the NIU Convocation Center. Senior guard Marke Freeman posted a game-high 26 points, adding seven rebounds.
TheFalcons improved to 18-4, 6-3 in league play while the Huskies fell to 9-13, 3-6.
“I am very happywith my team – we battled our hearts out; we are learning,” NIU first-year head coach Kathi Bennett said. “We are like a door-to-door salesman; we’ve got to keep knocking.”
NIU led 64-61 with 47 seconds left, and it took two-time MAC Player of the Year Lauren Prochaska’s late heroics to let Bowling Green escape with the win. Down three, BGSU point guard Tracy Pontius’ missed three-pointer was grabbed on the offensive glass by Prochaska, who was fouled and made two free throws.
TheFalcons fouled Ebony Ellis on the ensuing inbounds, and she missed both free throw attempts. The Huskies played stellar defense, forcing a miss byProchaska, but she grabbed her own rebound and made a lay-up to put BGSU on top 65-64 with 16 seconds left. The Huskies missed a jumper and turned the ballover after grabbing the offensive rebound one play later.
Prochaska then sealedthe game with two free throws.
While Prochaska came through late, NIU limited the league’s top player to just 10 points, around half of her average. Freeman had the primary defensive assignment on the senior.
“Marke had one ofthe best games I’ve seen in a long time,” Bennett said. “She was guarding (Prochaska) most of the night and overall we did a great job on her.”
The Huskies locked down on BGSU in the second half, allowing just 29.6 percent shooting from the field and matching the Falcons point-for-point. Northern Illinois didn’t give up a field goal for over seven minutes in the second, from 10:28 to 3:19.
Freeman scored Northern Illinois’ first 14 points and finished the first half with 16.
“We had to overcome a great game by Marke Freeman, who single-handedly almost beat us,” BGSU head coach Curt Miller said. “She can create her own offense at anytime. We tried to keep length on her, but we don’t have anyone on our roster to match up with the quickness she has.”
But Freeman wasn’t the only Huskie to score.
Ellis finished the game with 10 and eight rebounds. Danielle Pulliam and Courtney Shelton added eight points each for NIU. Bowling Green was led by Jen Uhl, who hit four of theFalcons’ eight three-pointers, and totaled 18 points. Maggie Hennegan added 16,while Chrissy Steffen scored 12.
Northern Illinois returns to action at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Convocation Center against Akron.
For more information on NIU women’s basketball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.