The Northern Illinois University women’s basketball team fell to Central Michigan, 82-61, in Mid-American Conference West Division play at the Convocation Center Sunday afternoon.
Northern Illinois (7-21, 2-13 MAC) came out strong, shooting 51.7 percent in the first half and jumped out to a 12-7 lead through the first four-and-a-half minutes.
After a three-pointer by Kerby Tamm gave Central Michigan (17-11, 11-4) the 13-12 lead, the Huskies responded with a 7-0 run, keyed by a Jenna Thorp (Hinckley, Ill./Hinckley-Big Rock) three-ball, to extend its lead to 19-13 with 12:45 left in the half.
Leading 31-28 with 6:15 left in the half, the Huskies outscored CMU, 9-4 in a four-minute stretch to lead by eight, 40-32, with 1:52 left in the first half. However, the Chippewas closed out the half with back-to-back buckets to cut the lead to four going into halftime.
The second half was all Central Michigan. CMU, which shot 55.6 percent in the first half, carried its hot-hand into the second half, shooting at a 60 percent clip and 57.9 for the game.
The Chippewas defense clamped down on Amanda Corral (Hobart, Ind./Hobart), holding the Huskie sophomore to two points in the second half. NIU shot 26.7 percent from the field in the second half and 39 percent for the game. Corral finished the game with a team-high 18 points.
“If it was a 31-minute game we’d be right there,” said NIU head coach Kathi Bennett. “The last nine minutes got away from us. [Taylor] Johnson came in and hit some threes.
“Again, I thought we took a step and improved a great deal. They’re a very good team, very talented and I felt we broke them down. We just got fatigued at the end.”
Five Chippewas finished in double figures with Brandi Baker scoring a game-high 20 points. Niki DiGuilio was right behind her with 15. Taylor Johnson came off the bench to score 11 points, all in the second half, and was a perfect 4-for-4 from the field and 3-for-3 from beyond the arc.
While Corral was held in check, freshman Alexis Lindstrom (Howards Grove, Wis./Howards Grove) picked up for her teammate, scoring 12 second-half points. Lindstrom finished with a career-high 18 points, going 6-of-10 from the field, including 4-for-7 from beyond the arc.
“She always could shoot it,” Bennett said of Lindstrom. “She’s our best passer. I think she’s really picked it up on that aspect of her game. Now she’s playing fearlessly off the dribble. She’s also not afraid to defend.”
Thorp was the third Huskie to finish in double figures, scoring 11 points, and leading the team in rebounds with seven.
The Huskies return to action Wednesday when NIU travels to Western Michigan. Tip-off for is set for 6 p.m., and fans can follow all the action live on 1360 AM/98.9 WLBK or via Huskie All-Access.
For more information on NIU women’s basketball or Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.