Northern Illinois Head Coach Kathi Bennett’s signature “Pack” defense came out in full force as the Huskies earned a 47-43 win over Indiana State on Thursday night at the NIU Convocation Center. The stifling Huskie defense tied a season-low point total and held the Sycamores to a 32.1 shooting percentage, marking the fifth straight opponent that NIU has held under 40 percent.
“It’s always good to win, but to win with defense is even better,” said Bennett as the Huskies improved to 6-2 when holding opponents under 40 percent shooting.
The win puts NIU at 6-4 on the year and gives the Huskies their second straight win for the third time this season, which is a feat that happened three times all of last season.
In getting their second straight win against a school from the state of Indiana, the Huskies did so in completely different fashions. Against Indiana last Saturday, NIU fell down 9-0 to start the game and fought its way back to eventually win on a three from Courtney Shelton (Rockford, Ill./Hononegah) with nine seconds left. Versus Indiana State (6-6), it was the Huskies who jumped out to a 9-0 lead, never trailed, and kept the pressure on the Sycamores all night.
It was the duo of Amanda Corral (Hobart, Ind./Hobart) and Kim Davis (Evanston, Ill./Evanston Township) that pulled through for the Huskies on the night. The two combined for 31 of the 47 NIU points and played large roles in nearly every Huskie scoring run, including all nine points of the opening spurt
To start the game, Corral, despite being hampered by sickness, picked up a steal and layup. The next time down the court, Davis grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back for a layup. After an ISU turnover, Corral powered in a layup off an inbound play and drew a foul for a three-point play. Davis then capped the run with a fast break layup.
The nine-point lead just three minutes into the game stood for NIU until the 10:15 mark of the first half, when ISU knotted the score at 12. A few minutes later, the Huskie offense turned it on again as Davis cutting layup ignited a 12-4 run to end the half with a 28-20 edge. The highlight of the run, however, was Alicia Johnson (Harvey, Ill./Thornton), who drained back-to-back threes to provide a spark off the bench.
Three minutes into the second half, Corral connected on a three to give NIU its largest lead of the game, 34-22. But the Sycamores would grind back into the game with a 15-6 run over the next 13 and a half minutes.
Needing someone to stop the bleeding, Corral answered once again with a three to put the Huskies up six, 43-37, with 4:02 left. But ISU wasn’t done, as two straight scores in the paint from Shannon Thomas, who led all scorers with 22, brought the Sycamores within two points, 43-41, with two minutes remaining.
Needing someone to step up again, this time it was Davis who came through for the Huskies as she drew a foul in the paint and sank two free throws.
Following another Thomas basket in the paint with 40 seconds left to bring the NIU lead back to two points, Shelton missed a floater but Davis was there for the rebound and kicked it out to Corral to kill the clock before she was fouled with seven seconds left. The rookie then calmly swished both freebies to seal the win.
Davis finished with a season-high 16 points and four assists, adding nine rebounds to boot. Corral scored 15 for the second straight game and had six boards.
The Huskies next hit the road to face Eastern Illinois at 7 PM CT on Dec. 29 in Charleston, Ill.