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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Women’s basketball topples first-place Ball State in overtime

Katherine Follmer
Redshirt junior guard Sidney McCrea drives past a Ball State University defender in an NIU women’s basketball home game Wednesday. McCrea led the Huskies in scoring with 17 points in a 76-71 victory over the Cardinals. (Katherine Follmer | Northern Star)

DeKALB – NIU women’s basketball (10-11, 4-6 MAC) conquered MAC frontrunner Ball State University (20-3, 10-1 MAC) in an electric 76-71 overtime thriller.

The Huskies become the third team to defeat Ball State this season, joining the University of Connecticut and the University of Notre Dame, ranked nationally at No. 3 and No. 8, respectively. 

“I think this is probably the best 45 minutes of basketball that we’ve played,” said NIU women’s basketball head coach Lisa Carlsen.

The Huskies held the lead for over 22 minutes of game time across the first three quarters, until a buzzer-beater from Ball State senior guard Estel Puiggros tied the score at 50 heading into the final frame on regulation.

The Huskies and Cardinals exchanged blows in the fourth quarter, before an old-fashioned three-point play from Ball State junior guard Nyla Hampton gave the Cardinals a one-point lead with 16 seconds remaining.

With just one second on the clock, junior guard Laura Nickel was fouled and sent to the free throw line for two shots. The first shot tied the score at 64, but the second shot bounced off the rim, sending the game to overtime.

The Cardinals opened the fifth frame with three points from the charity stripe, but the Huskies swiped the lead back with 10 unanswered points, securing the huge upset victory.


An aggressive full-court press defense from the Cardinals helped them accumulate 14 steals, but the Huskies’ offense excelled, shooting 45.3% from the field and 39.1% from behind the arc.

“I don’t think we allowed some of those turnovers to then impact the next play,” Carlsen said. “And that’s really the most important thing against a team like Ball State because they want to speed you up. And we talked a lot about trying to stay composed in the moment, and we did just enough of that.”

Redshirt junior guard Sidney McCrea led the pack with 17 points, nine of which came in the fourth quarter and overtime.

“At the end of the game, it comes down to execution in those moments,” McCrea said. “We just have to run what we’re supposed to do, be great screeners, be great passers and good things will happen, and we’ll get the shots that we’re looking for.”

Senior forward Brooke Stonebraker secured her fifth double-double of the season, scoring 13 points and pulling down 12 rebounds.

“You could just see, especially at the end of the game, the energy and the execution on what we wanted to accomplish,” Stonebraker said. “So, it feels amazing.”


The Huskies muted the highest scoring offense in the conference, holding the Cardinals to 37.8% from the field and 22.2% from three. Ball State also went 9-20 on free throws.

Ball State junior guard Ally Becki, the fifth-leading scorer in the MAC, was limited to just 9 points on the night.

“I think, overall, we did a pretty good job of making sure to play defense as a unit,” McCrea said. “We were able to rotate correctly for the most part, and then able to make shots difficult for her (Becki), which is exactly what we were hoping to do.”


The Huskies will return to action at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Convocation Center to face Georgia Southern University as part of the MAC-SBC Challenge. Streaming will be available on ESPN+ and live stats will be found on SIDEARM Stats.

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