BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Courtney Shelton (Rockford, Ill./Hononegah) had been feeling it all night, and she felt it when it mattered most, nailing the game-winning three-pointer from the left wing with nine seconds left to give Northern Illinois a 60-59 win over Indiana at Assembly Hall on Saturday nig
ht. The victory gave NIU its first against a Big Ten opponent since 2006.
“That shot was set up by Courtney on the defensive end on the play before that shot,” said Kathi Bennett, who earned her first win in four tries against Indiana in her first game as a head coach at Assembly Hall since she fronted the Hoosiers from 2000-05. “We were down by two and had to foul — we had nothing to lose because they could just run the clock out. She went for a steal and knocked it out of bounds of off their girl.
“We had been passing the ball well all night but weren’t hitting all of our open shots. We did a good job of finding Courtney and she made it. It was awesome.”
In a back and forth affair most of the way (13 lead changes, 10 ties), Shelton’s clutch shot came after Indiana’s Jasmine McGhee had put the Hoosiers ahead 59-57 with 44 seconds left. Prior to the free throws, the Huskies (5-4) were either trailing or tied with the Hoosiers (3-7) since the 9:46 mark of the second half.
But the Huskies established early in the game that they would put up a fight. Right off the bat, IU jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the first three minutes. Unfazed, the Huskies outscored the Hoosiers 21-11 over the next 13 minutes. The run was jump-started by two straight threes from Shelton, who connected on a season-high five treys in seven attempts.
During the final 10 minutes of the game, it was more than just Shelton who pulled the Huskies through. Amanda Corral (Hobart, Ind./Hobart) hit a fade away jumper in the paint to cut a three-point deficit t one, 50-49, with 8:53 left. After a three-pointer from IU, Satavia Taylor (Bolingbrook, Ill./Bolingbrook/Loyola) hit a straight-on jumper in the paint. Natecia Augusta (Peoria, Ill./Limestone) followed with a jumper from the right baseline off a drive and dish by Alicia Johnson (Chicago, Ill./Von Steuben) that tied the game, 53-53, with 5:14 remaining.
“Amanda had the best game of her young college career,” said Bennett. “She played all 40 minutes and always gives it her all. She played a complete game tonight, driving well, hitting shots, rebounding — it was fun to watch.”
Following a mini 3-0 run by IU, Taylor drove the right lane for a layup and foul, but missed the free throw. Then Augusta and Taylor converted one of two free throws apiece to tie the game at 57 with 53 seconds left, setting up the final two key plays.
“Satavia, in just her third game, isn’t afraid to take shots, which I love,” said Bennett. “And when Natecia has the ball I just feel like good things are going to happen.”
Coming into the game, the Huskie coaching staff felt it had to play strong in the paint and rebound well against an Indiana team that was bigger than them. NIU did just that by holding a 20-18 edge in points in the paint and a 43-39 rebounding advantage. Despite a close turnover margin (16 for IU, 15 for NIU), the Huskies were the ones that capitalized on miscues with an 18-9 differential in points off of turnovers.
Leading the way for NIU in its second straight road win were Shelton and Corral, who each had 15 points. Corral also grabbed 10 boards for her second double-double. Augusta and Taylor were both one point shy of reaching double figures. Taylor had eight rebounds to boot.
Prior to the game, it had been 38 years since the two teams last met. Indiana won that game 48-16 at home on Feb. 10, 1973. The series between the two teams is now tied, 2-2, and NIU is 49-71 all-time against the Big Ten.
The Huskies next return home to take on Indiana State on Thursday, Dec. 22, at 7 PM CT.