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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Women’s basketball clinches MAC Tournament berth with win over Miami

Miami Athletics
Junior guard Laura Nickel (32) pushes through Miami University graduate student guard Jordan Tuff (1) while driving towards the paint. Nickel scored 11 points and grabbed 7 rebounds off the bench in a 56-46 win over the RedHawks. (Courtesy of Miami Athletics)

NIU women’s basketball (14-15, 7-10 MAC) punched its ticket to the MAC Tournament as late three-point shooting and strong bench play led a 56-46 win over the Miami University RedHawks (8-20, 5-12 MAC).

A 15-0 run from the Huskies to end the third quarter promptly erased a 35-25 Miami lead as NIU shot 5-for-7 from deep in the third frame. The Huskies finished the night shooting 47.1% from three.

Combined with a loss from the University of Akron, Wednesday’s win put NIU two games ahead of Miami and Akron, securing an eighth-place finish at minimum.

“We’re all so excited,” junior guard Laura Nickel said. “We really stuck together throughout that game and just pulled it off, and we’re really excited to go to Cleveland.”


The Huskie bench was vital in the playoff-clinching win with 26 points and six of the team’s eight three-pointers.

Nickel and redshirt senior guard Grace Hunter led the bench’s big night, leading the team with 7 rebounds each and accumulating 11 points and 9 points, respectively.

Nickel shot 5-for-8 from the field and Hunter nailed 3 shots from downtown.

“We’ve said all year that we’re at our best when everybody contributes and understands what they need to do when they step on the floor,” said NIU women’s basketball head coach Lisa Carlsen. “We definitely did that tonight.”


Redshirt junior guard Sidney McCrea fueled the Huskies all over the court, racking up 15 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals.

McCrea is averaging 12.1 points and 2.6 assists since the start of February after starting the first 10 games of the season on the bench.

“Every single game, I can bring my intensity,” McCrea said. “I can bring my energy, whether it’s offensively, defensively, getting rebounds, setting up my teammates and having active hands on defense. I thought that was kind of the focus for the whole team was controlling those controllables.”


A pair of 6-footers provided Miami’s lone sparks as freshman forward Amber Tretter and junior forward Katey Richason carried the RedHawks.

Tretter led both teams with 16 points and added 2 steals and a block on the defensive end. Richason scored 13 points on 5-for-9 shooting and led both teams with 8 rebounds.

Outside of Miami’s dynamic duo, the RedHawks’ offense shot just 25.9% from the field.


With McCrea and the bench carrying the workload, it was a quiet night on the stat sheet for the Huskies’ usual suspects, senior forward Brooke Stonebraker and senior guard Jayden Marable.

Stonebraker and Marable combined for just 11 points and 6 rebounds. The pair ranks top-two on the team in both categories this season.


The Huskies head to Kalamazoo, Michigan, for their season finale at noon CT Saturday against Western Michigan University. Live streaming will be found on ESPN+ and live stats will be available on StatBroadcast.

“We want to, obviously, continue to build momentum going to Cleveland,” Carlsen said. “It will take a great effort at Western, but I think it will be a great opportunity for us to play 40 more minutes of basketball and really continue to refine some things.”

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