Huskies survive fourth-quarter surge by Southern Indiana

NIU silences Screaming Eagles to remain undefeated at home


Northern Star File Photo

Junior guard Chelby Koker prepares to engage with an Akron player in January. Koker surpassed a total of 1,000 career points scored in NIU’s 79-67 victory over Akron in DeKalb last semester.

DeKALB – The NIU women’s basketball team managed to pick up a home win, 61-53, against the University of Southern Indiana Screaming Eagles on Tuesday despite a poor shooting performance in the fourth quarter.

Senior guard Chelby Koker and senior forward A’Jah Davis led the game with 15 points. Koker recorded five assists while Davis had nine rebounds.

Defense doesn’t win only championships

The Huskies’ defense was a significant asset in the first half. During the first half, NIU had eight steals. Six of those came in the first quarter leading the Huskies to having a six-point lead going into the second quarter.

“We were good defensively today and when things aren’t going your way offensively, you have to lock in defensively,” NIU women’s basketball head coach Lisa Carlsen said.

Sophomore forward Laura Nickel and junior guard Jayden Marable paved the way for the defense as they each had three steals.

The Screaming Eagles had no answer to stopping the Huskies in the paint in the first half. The Huskies had 18 points in the paint, six coming from Davis. She also had nine points in the first half.

The Huskies were up at the half 27-25.

NIU had a big scoring run as they outscored USI 21-6 in the third quarter. Graduate forward Emma Carter played a role in the third quarter run as she had eight points. Senior guard Janae Poisson also contributed in the third with six points off the bench.

Carter talked about how the team picked up slack in the second half.

“In the locker room we talked about how we need to come out with better energy, especially defensively,” Carter said. “Our defense sparked energy for us in the second half.”

The Screaming Eagles had offensive troubles in the third quarter, going 3-for-13 shooting, or 23.1%, but picked up the scoring in the fourth.

USI brings on the heat late

USI picked up momentum early in the fourth, leading to a 12-0 run against the Huskies. USI’s graduate forward Ashlynn Brown was the reason for the offense picking up as she had eight points in the fourth.

A fourth-quarter comeback seemed destined for the Screaming Eagles as NIU couldn’t find shots to fall, but the Huskies got away with a win 61-53.

USI scored 22 points in the fourth quarter compared to NIU’s 13 points.

Carlsen said her different lineups in the fourth are learning opportunities to get players to prevent comebacks and learn how to deal with pressure.

“We saw in the fourth quarter that we can have ten different on the floor to get the job done,” Carlsen said. “I think that is a valuable lesson in a tight situation for a lot of people to understand what that pressure is like.”

NIU now has an overall record of 2-1, their lone loss a blowout by the then No. 9 ranked University of Notre Dame in the season-opener. The Huskies sit in fourth place in the Mid-American Conference.

The Huskies will continue to defend their home court at 6 p.m. Thursday against the Western Illinois University Leathernecks. Live statistics for the game will be available on SIDEARM Sports.