Huskies struggle in third quarter after halftime lead, fall to Purdue on the road


Senior guard Myia Starks awaits at the top of the key Nov. 5 during NIU’s home loss to Harvard at the Convocation Center.

By Quentin Wilson

DeKALB — Women’s basketball fell short of an upset Sunday against Purdue University, losing 68-63. The Boilermakers scored 21 points in the third quarter to gain control of the game after a halftime lead by the Huskies.

NIU was led by redshirt senior guard Courtney Woods, scoring 16 points while leading the team with four assists. Woods was the only player for the Huskies to score in double figures, although every Huskie who saw playing time contributed in scoring.

Head Coach Lisa Carlsen praised her team for showing great balance on offense. During an interview with Tune In radio, Carlsen said she was worried about the length and defense of the Boilermakers, making notes for the Huskies to share the ball and having all five players ready to score. 

Woods and junior guard Gabby Nikitinaite combined for 11 points in the first quarter, hitting three shots from the three-point line together, giving the Huskies an 11-3 lead early.

After a Purdue timeout, the Boilermakers responded with a 13-3 run to give them the lead with just under two minutes left in the first quarter. Sophomore guard Kayana Traylor scored eight points in the 13-point run, leading Purdue to its first lead of the game at 16-14. 

The Huskies’ bench helped fuel a scoring run to regain the lead. The bench scored ten of its 22 points in the second quarter. Three minutes in the second quarter first year forward A’Jah Davis banked a layup to give the Huskies the 23-22 nod. The lead continued to increase with timely threes from Woods and sophomore forward Mikayla Brandon, pushing the Huskies’ lead to nine. However, the Boilermakers scored the last five points in the half to trim the score down 35-30.

In the second half, the Boilermakers found a rhythm on both sides of the ball. Senior guard Dominique Oden scored 12 points in the third quarter, leading the charge to an eight-point lead. Oden finished the game with 15 points.

Carlsen said she knew of Oden’s scoring abilities and was happy with how her team had contained Oden for most of the game.

“[Oden is] a tough match up; she hit some big shots in the quarter,” Carlsen said. “[The Boilermakers] hit a couple of tough shots, and we had a couple of turnovers that helped them.”

The Huskies struggled to find a rhythm on offense, giving up five turnovers and only scoring 11 points in the third quarter. NIU also missed three attempts from behind the arc until Nikitinaite hit a three-point shot to make the score to 51-46 before the end of the third.

The fourth quarter started to look different for NIU. The Huskies continued to fight their way back into the game, finding easy shots at the rim. A layup by Woods cut the lead down to two points with 13 seconds remaining in the game. The Boilermakers knocked down a pair of free throws to make it a four-point game. Senior guard Myia Starks had a shot blocked, forcing the Huskies to foul, ending the game with a final score of 68-63.

The Boilermakers continue their season undefeated at 4-0, while this registers the Huskies’ third loss of the season.

The Huskies will travel for the South Point Shootout in their next appearance 3:15 p.m. Friday at the South Point Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas against Tennessee Tech University.