NIU falls to SIU in Compass Challenge final


By Quentin Wilson

DeKALB —  Women’s basketball falls to Southern Illinois University – Carbondale 80-61 on the second night of a back-to-back. The loss places NIU second in the Compass Challenge after winning their first game Thursday night against Eastern Illinois University.

SIU was the more aggressive team the whole night, playing with more intensity and using its size to its advantage. The Salukis scored a large chunk of their points in the paint, finding an open player during a cut, or from putbacks. SIU grabbed seven offensive rebounds in the first quarter, allowing the Salukis to slow the game down and stop the Huskies from starting any fastbreaks.

“They were more aggressive to the ball, we didn’t win any 50-50 balls,” Head Coach Lisa Carlsen said. “We didn’t do a very good job of pursuing the basketball, rebounding is a team thing.” 

Senior guard Myia Starks led the Huskies with 13 points while shooting 50% from the field. Starks was active on both sides of the ball, adding three steals to her name as well. 

“I’m never going to give up no matter what the score is,” Starks said. “Whatever I can do to help the team, doesn’t matter what I have to do either scoring, playing defense, or getting steals.”

The Salukis jumped on the Huskies at tip-off, holding NIU to 21% shooting from the field in the first quarter. With an all-around team effort, SIU saw their lead grow as large as 25 points by the second quarter.  The Huskies would struggle to score the rest of the half, shooting only 27%. 

“You have to credit Southern for taking us out of rhythm, they were the tougher team,” Carlsen said. “There was nothing very good on the stat sheet at half time that we can point to as a positive.”

In the third quarter, the Huskies tried to stage a comeback, cutting the lead down to 10 points due to timely 3 pointers by first year guard Grace Hunter and redshirt senior guard Courtney Woods. Hunter led the charge for NIU burying three 3-pointers in the quarter to give her a total of nine points on the evening.

In the fourth quarter, the Salukis responded by scoring on the team’s first eight attempts for 19 points in the quarter. This sequence was able to keep the lead out of the Huskies reach for the remainder of the game, allowing SIU to capture the Compass Challenge crown for the second-consecutive year. 

Junior guard Makenzie Silvey led the Salukis in scoring with 14 points. Her performance in the last two games led to her winning MVP of the Compass Challenge.

Woods was named to the All-Tourney team, despite her 11 point outing. On Thursday, Woods made school history moving up to first all time in 3 pointers made.

The Huskies will next see action against Drake University 2 p.m. Sunday, December 29, at the Convocation Center.