In its 2013-14 home opener, the Northern Illinois women’s basketball team defeated Mississippi Valley State in impressive fashion, 79-60, as four different scorers reached double-digit figures.
Junior Natecia Augusta (Peoria, Ill./Limestone) recorded her first career double-double with career-highs in scoring and rebounding at 17 and 11, respectively. The Huskies evened their record to 1-1 on the year with the victory while MVSU dropped to 0-3.
“The team was really locked in and followed the game plan,” said head coach Kathi Bennett during the post game press conference, “they were really disciplined and had an energy about them. They really helped each other on the floor tonight. It’s nice to get that first win and when you score almost 80 points as well, that’s a good thing.”
Augusta’s double-double performance – the first for NIU since Amanda Corral’s March 6, 2013, at Western Michigan – came on the heels of her first career foul-out at Green Bay in the Nov. 8 season-opener.
“(Natecia) played with a lot of poise tonight,” Bennett said. “She really slowed herself down and hopefully this is a sign of things to come for her.”
The Huskies came out as the aggressor in the contest jumping out to 13-3 lead through the first four minutes of play, as NIU was able to clean up the boards on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. Northern Illinois capitalized on those chances in the game as it scored 29 points on second chance baskets to the Devilettes’ 10. The Huskies collected a total of 59 rebounds, 21 of those on the offensive.
As the first half progressed, the Huskies extended their lead into the teens, but Mississippi Valley State battled back thanks to the play of Ashley Beals, who scored in eight points in the first half. Jumpers by Ally Lehman (Nineveh, Ind./Indian Creek) and Alex Dumoulin (Hampshire, Ill./Elgin CC) in the final minutes of the half increased the Huskies lead to 19 heading into the locker room, 40-21.
MVSU rallied to start the second half, but NIU responded as it reached a 20 point lead and eventually increased that lead to 30 points with 6:07 remaining in the game. The Huskies carried that 30 point lead through to the final two minutes of action.
Though Augusta led Northern Illinois with 17 points, the wealth was spread amongst four different Huskies as senior Ashley Sneed (Harvey, Ill./Thornton) and junior Corral (Hobart, Ind./Hobart) each dropped 14 points and sophomore Alexis Lindstrom (Howards Grove, Wis./Howards Grove) scored 10. It was the first time since Feb. 6, 2013 at Ohio that four different Northern Illinois players reached double-digits in scoring.
Sneed commanded the floor in the second half, as she created her opportunities on the drive, off the ball and under pressure. Her 14 point performance matched her career-high at Illinois State during her sophomore year.
While both teams committed a high volume of fouls in the game, it was Northern Illinois at who capitalized as the team was a combined 15-of-17 (.882) at the line, compared to the Devilettes 7-of-17 (.411) average.
With tonight’s win, Coach Bennett improved her record in home openers to 3-1 all-time in charge of the Huskies.
The NIU Huskies will return to action Sunday afternoon as it heads to Wisconsin. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.
For more information on NIU women’s basketball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.