The Northern Illinois women’s basketball team earned its first road win of the season with a 73-40 decision over Chicago State on Sunday at Jones Convocation Center.
Helping the Huskies (4-3) to victory was a huge shooting discrepancy as NIU shot a season-high 61.2 percent from the field and held the Cougars (1-10) to 25 percent, the lowest NIU has held an opponent all season.
“I’m really happy with [the win],” said head coach Kathi Bennett of NIU’s largest win since a 117-52 drubbing of Milwaukee on March 2, 1996.
“Defensively, I thought our effort and energy [was good]. We followed the scouting report, contested shots — I was really pleased on that end.”
The Huskies had last played 12 days ago but showed no signs of rust as they picked up their second straight win for the second time this season.
Their fourth win in the last six games moves the Huskies over .500 for the first time since a win at Western Illinois on Nov. 16, 2010.
Providing a huge spark in her Huskie debut was Satavia Taylor (Bolingbrook, Ill./Bolingbrook/Loyola), who just became eligible after transferring from Loyola last fall. The junior scored five of NIU’s first 11 points and ended up with a healthy stat line of 11 points, seven rebounds, and three assists. Taylor’s impact was not felt just in the box score, as the all-around talented wing brought the ball up the court and portrayed a stoic demeanor in helping run the offense.
“Satavia, she makes a difference,” Bennett said. “It’s really nice having her. She just has a way about her game, a calm about her. She gave us really good minutes and had great composure.”
Benefitting from Taylor’s presence was Claire Jakubicek (Cary, Ill./Cary-Grove), who poured in a season-high 21 points as she found herself frequently open on cuts to the basket. The rookie was nearly flawless from the field, making 10 of 12 shots. She also added a game-high eight rebounds, five assists, and three steals.
“She attacked,” Bennett said of Jakubicek’s performance. “It was really neat to see her play free. She can help us because she guards well on the perimeter. We can rotate her between the three and four spot. She did a really nice job. She played aggressively and free. It was really nice to see.”
Courtney Shelton (Rockford, Ill./Hononegah) had a well-rounded game as well, totaling 10 points and a season-high seven assists.
The Huskies simply challenged shots, collected rebounds, and moved the ball well. NIU held a 33-23 rebound edge and tallied 21 assists on 30 made baskets. Despite being heavy on turnovers with 20, NIU only allowed 12 points off the miscues and scored 22 points on CSU’s 21 turnovers.
With the game tied at 14, NIU used an 11-0 run to create separation from the Cougars, and CSU never recovered as the Huskies continued to execute. The initial spurt was capped by a three-pointer from Shelton after a CSU timeout, giving NIU its largest lead of the season.
Then, from the 0:59 mark of the first half to the 14:41 mark of the second half, NIU held the Cougars scoreless while pouring in 17 points to take a commanding 46-19 lead.
Nearly 10 minutes later, the Huskies built a 39-point advantage after a Jakubicek layup with 4:16 left in the game.
“In the second half we definitely didn’t turn the ball over as much and stayed more composed,” said Bennett of NIU’s 42-21 scoring edge in the second half. “What I was most pleased about was how hard we played on the defensive end. We still have a ways to go offensively.”
The Huskies will look for their third consecutive win as they return home on Wednesday, Dec. 14, at 5:30 PM CT to face Illinois Chicago at the NIU Convocation Center.
For more information on NIU women’s basketball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.