Northern Illinois fell to Bowling Green in a defensive showdown Sunday afternoon at the Stroh Center.
The Huskies (7-10, 3-4 MAC) held the Falcons (16-3, 6-1 MAC) to its lowest scoring total in Mid-American Conference and home games this season, but NIU fell to the MAC East’s No. 1 team, 57-44.
Junior Natecia Augusta (Peoria, Ill./Limestone) led Northern Illinois with 12 points, followed by classmate Amanda Corral’s (Hobart, Ind./Hobart) 11 points. The Huskies outscored the Falcons in the paint, 28-22, and off turnovers, 19-11.
“We played extremely hard and well defensively against a talented team in Bowling Green. My challenge to this team, especially against good teams in this conference, is that you have to be able to keep your composure, body control and just be able to finish,” said head coach Kathi Bennett.
“That’s what’s missing right now. We’re playing well together and everything is right there. If we play like this from here on out, and we can get better at finishing, we’re going to have an exciting end to the season. We’re beyond moral victories right now. Yes, (Bowling Green) is a good team, but we had a lot of opportunities to win today.”
The game pitted the Mid-American Conference’s two top defensive teams as Bowling Green entered the game surrendering only 59 points per game, while Northern Illinois entered only giving up 62 per game.
The Huskies created 18 BGSU turnovers in the game while only committing 11 themselves. NIU also held Bowling Green senior Alexis Rogers, a transfer from Duke who was averaging 14.0 points per game, to only six points in the game, thanks to defensive work by Alex Dumoulin (Hampshire, Ill./Elgin CC) and Jenna Thorp (Hinckley, Ill./Hinckley-Big Rock). The Falcons entered the game averaging 79.7 points per game at home and were held almost 23 points below their average.
Offensive rebounding was one of Northern Illinois’ other strengths in the game as it grabbed 14 of its own shots. Thorp pulled down three of her six rebounds in the game off of the offensive glass. She also added six points and two assists to complete her afternoon.
The Huskies and the Falcons each made 19 shots in the game but it was NIU that attempted more field goals in the game with 63 total.Of the Huskies 19 field goals, Northern Illinois recorded 11 assists and were led by freshman Ally Lehman (Nineveh, Ind./Indian Creek), who led all players in the game with four assists.
Corral and Augusta both led the Huskies offensive attack in the second half as Northern Illinois outscored Bowling Green in the period, 27-25. Corral accounted for 10 points in the frame, while Augusta scored six. With 6:58 remaining in the game, senior Alicia Johnson (Chicago, Ill./Von Steuben) hit a jumpshot to cut the NIU deficit to nine points, 47-38, but the Huskies were unable to keep the momentum as the Falcons rebuilt their double-digit lead.
The Huskies will return to its home court Wednesday, Jan. 29, when it hosts Kent State at the NIU Convocation Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.