In a tale of two completely different halves, the Northern Illinois women’s basketball team fell 65-46 to No. 19/21 DePaul on Saturday afternoon at McGrath-Phillips Arena. Down 25-22 halftime, the Blue Demons (13-2, 1-0 Big East) outscored NIU (6-6, 0-0 Mid-American) 43-21 in the second half en route to their 18th straight win over the Huskies in as many years.
The Huskie defense was in full-force in the first half as NIU held the Blue Demons, who entered the game with a 45 percent field goal percentage and 37 percent three-point mark, to an 8-for-31 (25.8 percent) performance from the field in the first half, including a dismal 1-for-12 (8.3 percent) showing from behind the arc.
Meanwhile, the Huskies crashed the offensive glass (9-5) and shot just a little better (11-for-33, 33 percent) than DePaul to build a 25-22 lead at the half. But then all the momentum and good vibes disappeared during the halftime break as DePaul stormed out of the locker room with a 14-0 run to grab a commanding 36-25 lead.
“We came out really flat to start the second half,” said NIU Head Coach Kathi Bennett. “Our size — they are a little bigger — they wore us down a little. Our energy, fire, and alertness were definitely off in that first stretch of the second half until the media timeout. We took quick shots, which killed us in transition, and gave them transition opportunities. We played great the first 20 minutes and for about seven minutes of the second half as we competed and did our best to finish. That first six or seven minutes of the second half were lacking.”
With the non-conference schedule complete, the Huskies stand at 6-6, which is nearly identical to where they stood a year ago (6-7) as they started Mid-American Conference play. But unlike last year, NIU is heading into conference play on much better terms. Last season, the Huskies dropped four of their last six games prior to starting the MAC slate. This year, NIU has won four of its last seven games.
The Huskies begin league play with a 7 PM CT home contest against Central Michigan on Thursday, Jan. 5, at the NIU Convocation Center.