The No. 10 seed Northern Illinois University women’s basketball team fell to No. 7 seed Buffalo, 56-46, in the first round of the 2013 Mid-American Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament Saturday afternoon at Alumni Arena.
The Huskies finish the 2012-13 season with a 7-23 overall record and 2-14 mark in the MAC, while Buffalo improves to 11-19 and 8-8 in conference play. Buffalo moves on to face Miami in the second round.
Buffalo’s inside pressence and improved shooting in the second half proved to be the difference in the game. Christa Bacca finished the game with six blocks, including five in the second half, while the Bulls outscored the Huskies in the paint, 26-14.
Buffalo outshot the Huskies, 33.3 percent to 28.3, shooting 42.3 percent in the second half. Conversely, the Huskies, which shot 34.8 percent in the first half, shot 24.3 percent in the second.
“I think that’s a fatigue factor,” said NIU head coach Kathi Bennett of the team’s shooting in the second half. “A lot of kids have logged a lot of minutes.
“We can’t manufacture any easy points. When we get them we’ve got to cash in. I feel when we’re cash in on those opportunities, we’re going to beat Buffalo.”
The Bulls’ Mackenzie Loesing led all scorers with 13 points and Kristen Sharkey also finished in double figures with 10 points. In addition to her six blocks, Bacca scored eight pounds and grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds.
Sophomore Natecia Augusta (Peoria, Ill./Limestone) led the way for the Huskies with 10 points, while Ashley Sneed (Harvey, Ill./Thornton) followed with nine points and seven rebounds and four assists, both team highs. The Bull defense contained Amanda Corral (Hobart, Ind./Hobart), holding the Huskies’ leading scorer to seven points.
It was a tight game, much of the contest. NIU started out strong, opening the game on an 8-2 run before Buffalo recovered and outscored the Huskies 9-3 during a four-and-a-half minute stretch to tie the game 11-11 with 10:35 left in the first half. Buffalo went into the break with a 22-20 advantage.
Jenna Thorp (Hinckley, Ill./Hinckley-Big Rock) opened the second half with a three to give NIU a 23-22 lead. It would be the last for Northern Illinois. Buffalo went on an 8-2 run, aided by four Huskie turnovers, to take a 30-25 lead with 13:02.
NIU pulled within one on two occasions, but couldn’t get passed the Bulls. A 10-1 run by Buffalo gave the Bulls an 11-point lead, the largest of the game.
For more information on NIU women’s basketball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.