Northern Star




Northern Star

Northern Illinois University’s student news organization since 1899


Ensure student journalism survives. Donate today.

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Huskies clinch No. 6 seed in MAC Tournament with win over WMU

Tim Dodge
Senior forward Brooke Stonebraker (34) looks to put up a shot past Bowling Green defenders. Stonebraker had 13 points and nine rebounds as the Huskies lost to Bowling Green Saturday 82-73. (Tim Dodge | Northern Star)

NIU women’s basketball (15-15, 8-10 MAC) wrapped up its regular season with a thriller, overcoming the Western Michigan University Broncos (12-17, 7-11 MAC)  66-64. The Huskies secured the victory with a free throw from redshirt senior guard Grace Hunter with 12 seconds remaining. 

“I think this is great preparation for next week, because you expect to have 40 minutes of hard fought battle,” said NIU women’s basketball head coach Lisa Carlsen. “Western presents different challenges than other teams, but finding a way to get it done together has been our M.O..” 

Thanks to an Ohio University loss and NIU victory, the Huskies have clinched the No. 6 seed of the MAC Tournament. NIU will face off against No. 3-seed Kent State University for the second year in a row. 

“When you go to Cleveland, regardless of who plays, both teams are different then they were way back when we played them the first time. It’ll take a great effort,” Carlsen said. “I know this group is looking forward to it.”

Senior forward Brooke Stonebraker led the pack with 18 points and 14 rebounds. Stonebraker helped NIU dominate the paint, as the Huskies outscored Western Michigan 46 to 24 down low. NIU also won the rebound battle with 42  to the Broncos’ 23. 

“It gives me a lot more confidence going against a smaller team, because I know I’m stronger and I can be more dominant,” Stonebraker said. “We know we’re stronger in that area, that gives me confidence to put the ball in the basket.” 

Senior guard Jayden Marable complemented Stonebraker with 13 points of her own. Marable also produced 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 1 steal.

“That’s the version of Jayden (Marable) that we need. Being the facilitator and bringing aggressiveness on offense,” Carlsen said. “I thought she was a good communicator on the defensive end as well.”

Graduate guard Kaitlyn Zarycki, the second leading scorer in the MAC, led the Broncos with 20 points. Western Michigan had two other players reach double-digits including freshman guard Nile Muguira Orbe with 16 points and redshirt sophomore forward De’Ahna Richardson with 14 points. 

The game was back and forth, staying close throughout. NIU held the lead for 18 minutes and 28 seconds while Western Michigan held the lead for 18 minutes and four seconds. 

The Huskies and Broncos traded buckets to start the game, but Western Michigan held the lead for the last six-minutes and 45 seconds of the first quarter. The Broncos left the quarter with a four-point advantage. 

NIU took over in the second quarter, capitalizing on the Broncos’ abysmal shooting of 3-for-13 from the field. The Huskies struck a 16-4 run one-minute and 52 seconds into the quarter and created an 11-point lead, their biggest of the game. NIU finished the first half with a 37-29 lead. 

Western Michigan picked up the pace in the second half, outscoring NIU 16-10 in the third quarter and closing the deficit to two going into the fourth quarter. 

The Broncos applied pressure in the fourth quarter after an 8-2 run, earning Western Michigan a 53-49 lead with 7:37 left in the game. 

The game remained within 6 points until Stonebraker evened the game at 59 following a timeout with 3:37 remaining. 

“We had multiple options with that play going out of the timeout,” Stonebraker said. “It wasn’t looking for me or someone else, it was what they gave us and how we execute that in the moment.”

The game remained close as the Broncos gained a three-point advantage with 2:29 remaining.

A pair of layups from redshirt freshman Brooke Blumenfeld and junior guard Laura Nickel gave NIU a one-point lead, setting up Hunter’s game winning free throw. 


The Huskies’ next game will be in the MAC Tournament, facing off against Kent State University Wednesday at Rocket Mortgage Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. 

More to Discover