(Click links for box-scores.)
The Northern Illinois Huskies pulled away early and cruised to a 22-point win over the Kent State Golden Flashes in DeKalb, Ill. on Wednesday night. Four players scored in double figures for the Huskies, as they stopped a two-game MAC losing streak. The loss for Kent State means they remain the lone winless team in conference play.
Kent State actually began the evening with a basket by Rachel Mendelsohn just 1:06 into the game. The score gave KSU an early 2-0 advantage, but it would be their only lead of the game. Mendelsohn scored four early points, but her two baskets would be the only conversions made by the Flashes during the game's first seven and a half minutes.
After Mendelsohn broke the ice, NIU's Natecia Augusta got to work. She scored six of the Huskies' first eight points and helped Northern Illinois build an 8-2 lead after three minutes had elapsed. Kent State would never get any closer for the remainder of the game.
The Huskies' lead bounced between six and ten points for most of the first half, until Danny Pulliam made the only successful three-pointer by either team in the first half. Her long ball with 2:10 left in the half gave NIU its biggest lead, 31-18. The two teams traded baskets in the final two minutes, and the Huskies went to halftime with a 33-20 edge.
Northern Illinois was able to increase their lead to 17 during the first seven minutes of the second half, but Kent State tried to get back into the game. The Flashes forced a pair of turnovers that led to an 8-0 run, and Montia Johnson's two free throws with 9:39 left cut the KSU deficit to nine (47-38). After that, Northern Illinois got serious again. They held Kent State without a field goal for 5:54 and went on a 9-0 run of their own to claim an 18-point lead (56-38). Their burst eventually reached 18-4, as they built their biggest lead (23 points) on two Amanda Corral free throws with 34 seconds left. Ashley Evans split a pair of free throws for Kent State during the last 30 seconds to make the final score 65-43.
Both teams shot over 40% during the game, but the contest was very slow paced. The teams combined for just 98 shots -- fewer than 2.5 per minute. In other words, that's akin to both teams taking the full shot clock on every possession of the game and getting just one shot off per possession, with one extra shot coming once every two minutes. They combined for only two three-pointers in 14 attempts and made only 18 free throws in 29 attempts. Virtually all of the offense came inside the three-point arc.
NIU led in rebounds 31-28, but the teams combined for only seven second-chance points during the entire game. The Huskies also won the turnover battle by forcing 16 and giving up just nine. They outscored KSU 14-9 in points off those turnovers.
Four players scored in double figures for the Huskies, and two others scored nine points. Amanda Corral led the scoring effort with 13 points. She also contributed four rebounds, two assists, a block, and two steals. Jenna Thorp led the team with six rebounds and three steals, and she scored ten points to go along with three assists. Kent State was led by Montia Johnson, who scored 16 points and pulled down ten rebounds in 30 minutes off the bench. The Flashes' starters combined for just 21 points and seven rebounds.
NIU is now tied for third place in the MAC's Western Division with a 4-4 league record. They are 8-10 overall and play at Western Michigan on Saturday. Kent State drops to 0-8 in MAC play and 3-16 overall. Their next game will be at home on Sunday against Ball State.
The Ball State Cardinals overcame an eight-point deficit in the second half to earn an important 56-43 home victory over division rival Western Michigan in Muncie, Ind. on Wednesday night. The result gave both teams matching 4-4 records in Mid-American Conference play.
The first half of the game was very sloppy, as it featured more turnovers (23) than successful field goal attempts (16). A.J. Johnson scored first for Western Michigan with a three-pointer 27 seconds into the game. Ball State scored the next six points to take a 6-3 lead before Jazmine Windham nailed another three for the Broncos to tie the game at six. The score went constantly back-and-forth, as the first half featured four ties and nine lead changes. Neither team led by more than three points at any time during the half.
WMU led just 9-8 at the midway point of the first half, as Ball State went nearly five minutes without a field goal. Late in the half, the Cardinals scored four in a row to take a 23-20 lead, but WMU's Julia Henson scored another three for the Broncos. That shot held up for the final 38 seconds, and the teams went to the locker room tied at 23.
The Broncos began the second half by outscoring Ball State 11-3, as they held the Cardinals without a field goal for the first 5:17. The burst allowed WMU to take their biggest lead of the game at 34-26 with 14:30 left in the game. On the next possession, Brandy Woody converted a layup to cut the lead to six, but the Cardinals' bench was assessed a technical foul. KSU could have taken complete control of the game there, but they made just one of the two technical free throws, then turned the ball over on the next possession. The teams went to a media timeout with 11:49 left and WMU holding a 35-28 lead.
After the timeout, it was all Ball State. The Cardinals went on a 20-4 run over the next eight minutes. A three by Brittany Carter allowed Ball State to take a 37-35 lead to cap a 9-0 burst, and after Miracle Woods made WMU's first field goal in six minutes to tie the game at 37, Shelbie Justice made a layup for the Cardinals to give BSU the lead for good.
Woody turned a layup into an old-school three-point play with 3:17 left to give Ball State a 48-39 lead, which was their biggest of the game to that point. Western Michigan tried to rebound and scored the next four points, and the BSU lead was just five with 2:35 left.
However, after a 30 second timeout by the Broncos, Woody calmed things down with a layup, and the Broncos would not score again. During the game's final two minutes, Ball State converted a layup and four straight free throws while Western Michigan missed four straight shots and got no offensive rebounds. That allowed the Cardinals to walk away with a 13-point win.
Neither team shot particularly well during the game. Both attempted 43 shots, and Ball State made 18 compared to 16 for WMU. The teams combined to go just 7-for-30 from three-point range and 24-for-39 from the free throw line. Ball State won the rebounding battle 34-23, but they gave up just three offensive rebounds to the Broncos and allowed no second-chance points all night. Also, the Cardinals forced 21 turnovers and scored 18 points off of those. They gave up 18 turnovers but allowed the Broncos to score just five points as a result.
Woody led all players with 21 points and seven rebounds. WMU was led by Miracle Woods, who scored nine and earned five rebounds. The Cardinals were very effective in defending the Broncos' dynamic duo of Woods and Marquisha Harris. Woods and Harris combined for only 14 points and ten rebounds.
Both teams are now tied for third place in the MAC West with Northern Illinois at 4-4 in conference play. Ball State's win gives the Cardinals an overall record of 9-10, and they will play again on Sunday at Kent State. The Broncos fall to 8-11 overall with the loss. WMU will host Northern Illinois on Saturday.
Now, here's a look at the updated MAC standings...
|Eastern Division||Won||Lost||Won||Lost||Next Game|
|Bowling Green||6||1||16||3||at Ohio (1/30)|
|Buffalo||4||3||11||7||vs Miami (1/30)|
|Akron||4||3||10||8||at Toledo (1/30)|
|Ohio||3||4||8||10||vs BGSU (1/30)|
|Miami||2||5||6||12||at Buffalo (1/30)|
|Kent State||0||8||3||16||vs BSU (2/2)
|Central Michigan||7||0||11||8||vs EMU (1/30)|
||4||3||9||9||vs Akron (1/30)
||4||4||9||10||at KSU (2/2)
||4||4||8||10||at WMU (2/1)
||4||4||8||11||vs NIU (2/1)
||2||5||12||6||at CMU (1/30)|
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