Huskies lose back-to-back in the MAC

By Justin Kelley

DeKALB—The women’s basketball team saw two matchups against conference opponents this week: the Kent State University Golden Flashes and the Central Michigan Chippewas. The Huskies dropped both games by a combined 32 points.

NIU’s offense has performed well this season, ranking ninth in the country and second in the MAC, averaging 82.9 points per game. The Huskies have also shown strong ball control this season, ranking in the top 35 with 13.8 turnovers per game.

The Huskies went into the week with a 1-0 conference record looking to continue their hot start to the season, but ran into two teams who were looking to grab conference victories of their own.

Wednesday: Kent State

The Huskies started Wednesday’s conference game against the Golden Flashes hot, shooting 53.8 percent from the field, and went two of five from three-point territory. NIU struggled with handling the ball, giving up seven turnovers in the first quarter.

Sophomore guard Gabby Nikitinaite led the Huskies in scoring in the first quarter with five points and two rebounds.

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­Nikitinaite’s efforts kept the Huskies competitive with NIU trailing 20-23 at the end of the first quarter.

At halftime, senior guard Mikayla Voigt led the Huskies in scoring, recording 10 points and grabbing two rebounds at the break. The Huskies trailed 41-43 halftime.

The Huskies bounced back in the third quarter after a 3-pointer from Nikitinaite gave NIU a 52-51 lead. The lead didn’t last long as the teams battled through three lead changes in the final five minutes of the third.

The Golden Flashes pulled away in the fourth quarter going on a 7-0 run to extend their lead. The Huskies struggled to close out the game shooting 22.2 percent from the field in the final quarter to suffer the 87-78 loss.

Saturday: Central Michigan

The Huskies suffered a loss to the Central Michigan Chippewas Saturday at NIU’s Convocation Center.

The Huskies jumped out to a 10-6 lead to start game after an early 3-pointer from Voigt. It was the last lead the Huskies would hold in the game, as the Chippewas went on a 10-4 scoring run to bury NIU.

The Chippewas extended their lead by shooting 71 percent from the field in the second quarter. The Huskies didn’t have the same success, shooting 35.6 percent from the field and going into halftime trailing 45-37.

Nikitinaite led the Huskies with 10 first-half points while shooting 3-6 from the field.

Head Coach Lisa Carlsen talked about how the lack of execution was key on the team failing to slow down the Chippewas.

“It was one of those days [where] we weren’t real sharp in certain areas,” Carlsen said. “Any time that happens against a team with the caliber of [Central Michigan], they’re going to exploit it.”

The shooting woes continued for the Huskies as they shot 33.3 percent from the field in the third quarter.

Sophomore guard Errin Hodges had four points and grabbed three rebounds off the bench in the quarter, but her efforts weren’t enough.

The Huskies struggled to stop the Chippewas scoring attack, as first-year center Jahari Smith scored six of her 18 points in the third quarter to give her team a 68-51 lead.

Hodges led the Huskies again in scoring with seven points while shooting 3-3 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter. In the end, it wasn’t enough as the Huskies lost 89-66 to drop to 1-2 in the MAC.

The Huskies will have a chance to bounce back as they continue MAC play 6 p.m. Wednesday against the Bowling Green State University Falcons in Bowling Green, Ohio.