The NIU women’s basketball team held perennial NCAA Tournament participant South Dakota State to a season-low 55 points Saturday but the Huskies fell to the Jackrabbits, 55-42.
The NIU bench outscored SDSU, 21-13, and accounted for nine points on second chance efforts as the Huskies grabbed 12 offensive rebounds, two more than the Jacks.
The Huskies held the Jacks leading scorer Megan Waytashek, who entered the game averaging 16.5 points per game, to four points and caused 13 turnovers on SDSU.
“I don’t think we could’ve played any better defensively tonight. South Dakota State is a team that averaged 70-points a game. Physically, what our kids just did and how they competed, it was an incredible effort,” said head coach Kathi Bennett. “Toward the end, I felt like we found our groove on the offensive end and got some good inside touches. We were very small tonight down low but they did a good job of boxing out and limiting them.”
The Jackrabbits out-rebounded the Huskies tonight, 37-34, despite the starting lineup averaging over six feet per player.
Both NIU and South Dakota State had trouble finding the basket in the first half as both teams combined for a shooting percentage of .375 in the period. The Huskies scored by committee in the period as five different players scored in the period, led by Kelly Smith (Hartland, Wis./Arrowhead) who scored six.
The NIU bench stepped up for the second-straight game as it registered 10 points in the first half against the Jackrabbits as Jenna Thorp (Hinckley, Ill./Hinckley-Big Rock) and Smith carried the load for the Huskies. Ally Lehman (Nineveh, Ind./Indian Creek) registered two assists and six rebounds to compliment her two points in the stanza.
South Dakota State was 3-for-11 behind the three-point line and 4-for-5 at the free throw line in the first, finishing 5-for-20 beyond the arc and 12-for-15 at the charity stripe.
Both teams struggled to find the basket again as the Huskies and Jacks shot below 33-percent from the field, each scoring 24-points in the stanza. NIU made nine field goals in the half compared to SDSU’s seven.
Junior Lacia Gorman (Fort Wayne, Ind./Wayne/Wisconsin) made her first basket as a Huskie, NIU’s lone three-point field goal of the contest. Smith finished the contest with 12-points off the bench, including two from the free throw line. Lehman finished 11 rebounds, five assists, one block and one steal in the game to go along with her four points.
SDSU’s Chynna Stevens and Kerri Young led the Jackrabbits in scoring with 13 and 12 points, respectively. The Jacks turned the ball over nine times in the second period.
NIU will close the Lady Rebel Roundup at 2 p.m. today when it takes on Delaware State in the first game of the day.
For more information on NIU women’s basketball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.