First half dooms Huskies against Lady Gamecocks

By Kari Brackett

South Carolina’s dominant offensive skills proved to be too tough for the NIU’s women’s basketball team in its 83-71 loss Thursday night at Chick Evans Field House.

While NIU faced a 15-point deficit at half and moved to within only two in the second half, the Huskies could not pull through with a win.

“We had too many unforced turnovers in the first half,” coach Jane Albright said aout NIU’s early-game problems. “We had the exact same problem against Ohio State on Tuesday.”

NIU did not get off to a good start offensively and scored its first point after almost five minutes had passed on the clock. Poor shooting combined with 12 turnovers and the Huskies found themselves behind.

At halftime, NIU was down 43-23. When the NIU players came back on the court, they turned things around. Tammy Hinchee and Carol Owens each hit two baskets and Lisa Foss and Gena Stubbs each chipped in two points to bring the Huskies within five at 45-40.

South Carolina came back with eight unanswered points to take a 10-point lead. After back and forth action, Owens and Toby Meeks took charge on the court to bring the Huskies within one basket at 64-62. Two points was as close as the Gamecocks would allow the Huskies. Carolina hit key baskets and crucial free throws to take away any hope NIU had.

“The team is very pleased with the second half play,” Stubbs said. “But we have to play like that in the first half too. We have to be playing like that the whole game.”

While NIU did not have a strong first half, Carolina could not miss. The Lady Gamecocks hit 68 percent from the floor in the first half.

The leader of the Huskies was Owens. She tallied 23 points making her the leading scorer for both teams, and she grabbed seven rebounds.

“Carol Owens is back,” Albright said. “It is the best news of the night. She was the dominant player and we’ve just got to have her.”

Albright also praised Meeks, saying the sophomore came into the guard position and did her job.

“Meeks did the best anyone ever looked at that spot this year,” Albright said. “She came in and keyed it.”

Two key players for the Lady Gamecocks were sophomore Schonna Banner and junior Martha Parker. Banner led the Carolina scorers with 20 points followed by Parker’s 18. Last year Banner was named Metro Conference Newcomer of the Year, averaging 15 points per game.

“Banner is a great player,” Albright said. “We didn’t have anyone playing defense on her. We didn’t defend the post player well.”

“South Carolina is a great team. They made some cluch buckets when they needed them. I am still proud of my team. I still hink I have a great team. We’re going to get there.”

The Huskies said they are going to take Thursday’s game and build off of it.

“We are going to forget about tonight,” Stubb said, ” We are going to psych ourselves up in practice for the weekend.”