Against a formidable foe in Wisconsin, the Northern Illinois women’s basketball team won the turnover battle against the Badgers but was unable to put up more points than UW as the Huskies fell, 71-51.
Wisconsin committed 15 turnovers to the Huskies’ 14.
Danny Pulliam (Indianapolis, Ind./Pike) led NIU with 11 points and was 5-for-5 at the free throw line.
The Huskies (1-2) aggressively worked the boards in the game, despite their height disadvantage in the post. Senior Alicia Johnson (Chicago, Ill./Von Steuben) embraced the challenge as she collected six rebounds, two on the offensive side, in the opening four minutes of the game.
“We wanted to take away (shots) from the midrange and in, and we knew with their size that offensive rebounding was going to be a factor today so we really worked hard on those things,” said head coach Kathi Bennett.
NIU pressured the Badgers (3-0) in the paint as the Red and Black swarmed down low. The Badgers moved their efforts to the outside game, where they sank five shots from behind the arc, three of which were made by Jacki Gulczynski. UW finished 8-for-23 (.348) from behind the arc in the game.
The Huskies continued to fight as the team moved the ball around the basket to breakdown the Wisconsin defense in the post, searching for high percentage shots. NIU trailed 33-18 at the half and scored 14 of their points in the paint, compared to Wisconsin’s 12.
Johnson and freshman Jazmine Harris (West Allis, Wis./Heritage Christian) each led NIU in scoring in the half with four points apiece. Of its nine players that appeared, Northern Illinois had seven different players score in the stanza, eight overall. Northern Illinois was only outscored by five points in the second half, 38-33.
“I think Wisconsin’s a very smart team and they play well together. Their size length affected us today,” continued Bennett. “I felt like there was never a moment in this game when they didn’t think they could win this game and they fought like crazy to do that. We had great energy on the bench and everywhere and that’s a positive step for us. We look forward to getting better from here.”
In the second half, the Huskies continued to pressure in the paint, offensively and defensively.
Natecia Augusta (Peoria, Ill./Limestone) stood firm down low in the half, providing a target for the Huskies and as a passing outlet for Northern Illinois, working the ball in and out. Augusta finished the game with six points, three rebounds and three assists, one off her career high.
After attempting zero free throws in the first half of play, the Huskies took advantage of their time at the line as the team finished 11-of-13 (.846) from the charity stripe.
After scoring only two points in the first half, Pulliam stepped up for the Huskies in the second stanza as she was 5-for-5 at the free throw line and closed the period with nine points for an 11 point total in the game. Harris was second amongst NIU scorers in the contest, slashing and shooting her way to eight points in the effort with two rebounds and a steal, going 4-for-8 (.500) from the field.
Ally Lehman (Nineveh, Ind./Indian Creek), Ashley Sneed (Harvey, Ill./Thornton) and Johnson led NIU in rebounds with six. Wisconsin’s Gulczynski led all scorers in the game with 15. Wisconsin only outrebounds Northern Illinois, 47-36.
The Huskies will return to the NIU Convocation Center at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 21, for a matchup against in-state, Missouri Valley Conference foe Bradley.
For more information on NIU women’s basketball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.