Women’s squad finishes third at Iowa tournament

By David Lance

After losing 101-91 to the University of Washington in double-overtime Saturday in Iowa’s Amana-Hawkeye Classic in Iowa City, NIU’s women’s basketball team regrouped and beat Ohio University 73-63 in Sunday’s consolation game.

NIU point guard E.C. Hill made the All-Tournament team and Iowa won its Classic by beating Washington 58-39 Sunday.

The Huskies (2-1) had to rally Sunday to overcome their former Mid-American Conference foe. A 9-2 spurt to close the first half put NIU up 34-32 at the half.

“Our substitutes did a great job in the first half when the starters were not ready to play,” NIU head coach Jane Albright-Dieterle said. “People like Leslie (Pottinger), Soyini (Chism) and Julie (Gainer) really gave us a jump start.

“We came out a little flat and I think it was a combination of two things. One, we had a very emotional game (Saturday) and OU took advantage of that, plus they have two excellent post players.

“(Nicki) Smith and (Tracy) Williams had some skills we weren’t quite prepared for initially.”

Ohio opened the second half with a 10-0 run. Hill ended the Huskies’ scoring drought with a basket at the 15:50 mark.

The Huskies shot only 36 percent from the field, while Ohio shot 42.9 percent. NIU hit 18-of-25 free throws and Ohio made 9-of-16.

Led by Hill (15 points), Cindy Conner (15 points), Dianna Wingis (10 points) and Dee Dee Jeske (10 points), NIU gained the lead back and protected it late at the free-throw line.

“Before the season started, we talked about avoiding peaks and valleys,” Albright-Dieterle said. “Yesterday’s (game with Washington) was a peak. Maybe today (game with Ohio) wasn’t a real valley, but it was a lull.

“Nevertheless, I’m proud of my team this weekend.”

Albright-Dieterle watched her team force a first overtime with No. 21 Washington Saturday when Conner hit a last-second three-pointer.

“When Cindy hit that three-pointer, we really thought things would go our way,” Albright-Dieterle said. “Give Washington credit. They stayed ahead of us the rest of the way.”

Actually, a Jeske three-pointer from the left wing with 1.6 seconds left tied the score at 87, forcing a second overtime.

In the second OT, Washington outscored NIU 14-4, thanks mainly to free throws. Washington converted both ends of five one-and-bonus opportunities through the final five minutes.

“I’ve never been in a game where there’s 72 fouls called (43 against NIU, 29 against UW),” Albright-Dieterle said. “It was a very, very strange game. I thought we outplayed them in several respects.”

NIU took a 60-50 lead with nine minutes left in regulation, but foul trouble took its toll. NIU’s starting five plus Tracy Mondek fouled out of the game.

Before fouling out in the first OT, Hill scored a team-high 30 points. Washington was led by Shaunda Greene, who scored a game-high 39 points and had 13 rebounds.

“It was very much to Northern Illinois’ credit to have hung in there,” Washington coach Chris Gobrecht said. “They were very gutsy and you could see it in their play. Both teams will be very strong by the end of the year.”