The Northern Illinois University women’s basketball team held SEC foe Missouri to 47 points Sunday afternoon and caused the Tigers to turn the ball over 19 times at Mizzou Arena.
Attempting one final shot after a missed free throw with eight seconds left, the Tigers blocked the Huskies’ final shot to defeat NIU, 47-44. Missouri extended its home non-conference winning streak to 30 games with the win.
Seniors Amanda Corral (Hobart, Ind./Hobart) and Danny Pulliam (Indianapolis, Ind./Pike) combined for 25 points as Corral shared the lead for all scorers in the game with 13. MU’s Jordan Frerricks led the Tigers with 13 points and eight boards.
The Huskies (2-5) played the final 4:29 within four points of the Tigers (8-2) as they tied the game, 42-42, on a three-point basket from Pulliam. NIU also held Mizzou to a season-low in scoring. The Tigers entered the game averaging 71.2 points per game.
“Our effort tonight turned into a great competitiveness and I think that’s the hardest I’ve seen us compete this year. We definitely defended like there’s no tomorrow and we showed what a good defensive team we are and how well we can pressure other teams,” said head coach Kathi Bennett.
“We struggled a little bit offensively at the beginning but we made some big shots to gain the lead and even tie it late in the second half. We played with a lot of poise late.”
Missouri started the game with three-straight field goals, including two behind the arc, to build an 8-2 lead over the Huskies. A pair of free throws by Corral prior to the first media timeout started 9-0 run for NIU that put the Huskies on top, 11-8, with 12:03 left in the first.
Freshman Kelly Smith (Hartland, Wis./Arrowhead) hit a three-pointer to cut the Huskie deficit to one point, 8-7, with 15:15 remaining. A layup by Pulliam gave NIU the lead at the 13:58 mark, followed by another Pulliam layup to put the Huskies on top by three heading into the media timeout.
NIU’s pressure defensively was the prime catalyst for the Huskie lead as it created 12 turnovers in the opening 12 minutes. Mizzou would bounce back at the end of the half, creating a 12-0 run in the final minutes. Corral broke the duck with a basket in the lane as NIU trailed the Tigers at halftime, 22-15.
The two teams opened it up offensively in the second stanza with NIU pacing the way with a 12-of-27 (.444) shooting performance, including an 4-for-8 clip from behind the three-point line.
Four of the Huskies 29 points in the period came via fast break layups from Corral, who twice intercepted passes around the Missouri key and ran the ball down the court for wide open shots.
Mizzou looked to break away from the Huskies as it built a nine-point lead in the second half. However, NIU clawed back to close the Tiger gap. MU went up by four with 59 seconds left as Bri Porter made two free throws and Morgan Eye’s hit a jumper to put Missouri on top 46-44.
Going right back down the floor, freshman Renee Sladek (Merrill, Wis./Merrill) sunk a layup and was fouled with 25 seconds left to close the NIU deficit to two points, 46-44, and possibly within one with a free throw attempt upcoming.
After missing the shot, the Tigers sank one more free throw with eight seconds left as Maddie Stock failed to make her second attempt.
With sophomore Amber Gray (Mukwonago, Wis./Mukwonago) snatching the rebound and dishing it to classmate Ally Lehman (Nineveh, Ind./Indian Creeak), the guard ran the ball up the court and threw up a three-point shot with one second left. Stock would gain redemption after the missed free throw as she blocked the final shot to seal the MU win, 47-44.
NIU’s ball distribution topped Missouri’s as they led in assists, 12-8. NIU led in steals, 8-6, and committed the fewest turnovers in the matchup, 19-12. The Huskies held Mizzou to a 35-percent field goal percentage.
The Huskies return to the floor Wednesday night against SIUE in NIU’s Hoops for Soups night. Every fan who brings canned food items will receive $1 admission to the game and for every ticket sold, Bennett will donate 50 cents to Hope Haven in DeKalb. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.
For more information on NIU women’s basketball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.