The NIU Huskies (5-7, 1-1 MAC) held Mid-American Conference West division favorite Central Michigan (8-6, 3-0 MAC) to 56 points and 37 percent shooting Saturday night in Mt. Pleasant.
The Huskies couldn’t answer for Naismith Trophy candidate Crystal Bradford, however, as her 20 points led the Chippewas over NIU, 56-43.
Amanda Corral led the Huskies in scoring with 12 points and eight rebounds in the contest.
“We came out tentative and the energy just wasn’t there with some of our players. Amanda played really tough today and I was proud of the way she played,” said head coach Kathi Bennett. “I was happy to see Lacia make a couple baskets and Georgia make her first three tonight; I think that will create some competition and that can’t hurt us.”
The Huskies and Chippewas traded runs in the first half with NIU taking the first crack at the scoreboard with two-straight baskets in the paint from Jenna Thorp (Hinckley, Ill./Hinckley-Big Rock) and Renee Sladek (Merrill, Wis./Merrill) to put NIU on top, 4-0.
After trading two more runs, the Huskies would go on a 7-2 run to lead, 14-10, with 8:48 left in the first half.
Corral scored five of NIU’s points on the run, starting with a reverse layup under the basket, curling baseline despite being towered over by three Chippewa players. She then followed up with a three-pointer to give the Huskies their four point lead and force CMU to take a timeout.
Central Michigan would lead at halftime, 25-21. Northern Illinois University held the Chips to 11-of-30 shooting in the half (.367) as Bradford accounted for 11 points and five rebounds. Corral finished with nine points and five rebounds for the Huskies.
NIU sophomore Ally Lehman (Nineveh, Ind./Indian Creek) opened the second half scoring as she hit a jumpshot to lift the Huskies within two points, 25-23. CMU would then go on an 8-0 run to build the first double-digit lead of the game, 33-23, with 14:27 remaining.
Though the Chips would lead by 17, the NIU defense continued to disrupt shots for Central Michigan and cause turnovers as the Chippewas shot .377 from the field in the game and led in turnovers, 11-9.
CMU’s field goal percentage marked the sixth-straight game that the Huskies did not allow a team to shoot over 40 percent from the field. The Chippewas 56 points also marked the ninth consecutive contest NIU did not surrender 60 points in a game. Central Michigan entered the contest with a field goal percentage of .412 and a scoring average of 71.0 points per game.
The Huskie offense was diverse as eight of the 10 NIU players that appeared in the game scored for the Huskies. Corral reached double-figures for the second-straight contest as she finished with 12 points, adding eight rebounds and two assists in all 40 minutes on the floor. Freshmen Kelly Smith (Hartland, Wis./Arrowhead) and Sladek each added seven points for the Huskies.
Bradford finished with 20 points with nine rebounds and four assists, while teammate Lorreal Jones finished with an 11 point, 12 rebound double-double performance.
NIU will return to the floor Wednesday night when it heads back out on the road to Bowling Green. The Huskies and Falcons will tipoff at 6 p.m. Central from the Stroh Center.