Huskies snap two-game losing skid as Woods, Koker lead women’s basketball to victory


Junior guard Gabby Nikitinaite (right)- leans in for a drive to the basket Nov. 5 during NIU’s season-opening loss against Harvard University at the Convocation Center.

By Justin Kelley

DeKALB — The women’s basketball team picked up a much needed win Friday against the Tennessee Tech University Golden Eagles, winning 82-74 and snapping a two-game losing skid.

NIU was led by redshirt senior forward Courtney Woods with 23 points and six rebounds.

The Huskies received double-digit point contributions from four other players. Junior guard Gabby Nikitinaite, junior forward Riley Blackwell, and first-year guard Chelby Koker scored 14 points each.

Koker’s abilities stood out to Head Coach Lisa Carlsen, who said she has a lot of confidence in the first-year guard.

“When [Koker] comes in, she handles the ball really well and is very creative with finding ways to score the basketball,” Carlsen said. “Tonight, she was able to kind of change pace getting to the rim at crucial times.”

Junior guard Myia Starks had 10 points and dished out three assists.

For the Golden Eagles, junior guard Kesha Brady led with 24 points and grabbed six rebounds in 31 minutes of play.

Tennessee Tech jumped out to an 8-0 lead early in the first quarter after junior forward Mackenize Coleman knocked down back-to-back 3-point shots. NIU rebounded later in the quarter and briefly led 11-10 after a Starks layup.

The score was deadlocked at 21 after the first quarter. Woods and Blackwell led the way for NIU with five points each.

NIU retook the lead early in the second quarter, 30-23, on a 9-2 scoring run capped by a jumper by Woods. The Huskies’ lead did not last long; Tennessee Tech retook the 34-32 lead on a three pointer by first-year guard Maaliya Owens.

With .06 seconds remaining in the quarter, NIU tied the game at 34 on a layup by Blackwell.

The Huskies were able to take the lead 40-34 and create some separation early in the third quarter, shooting 53.8% from the field. The Golden Eagles tied the game at 48 late in the quarter after a 14-8 run.

NIU took a slight lead, 52-51, heading to the fourth quarter. Woods led the Huskies with five points, while Tennessee Tech was led by sophomore forward Taylor Lamb with four points.

NIU went on to win 82-74 after knocking in 52.9% of its shots in the fourth quarter, where Woods scored 11 points. Brady scored 10 points for the Golden Eagles to make it close, but Tennessee Tech came up just short.

Carlsen said Woods’ fourth quarter performance played a crucial role for the Huskies. The coach pointed out Wood’s experience when the team needs her the most in close games.

“She has been in that situation so many times that she has confidence and understands what needs to be done in tight situations,” Carlsen said. “Whether that’s getting to the foul line or being aggressive on [defensive or offensive] sides.”