Huskies can’t hang with Chippewas

By Eddie Garcia

The women’s basketball team fell to the Central Michigan Chippewas Wednesday 91-77 despite an early shooting spark on offense.

The Huskies (13-13, 5-10 Mid-American Conference) shot over 45 percent from the field, but it was not enough as the Chippewa’s showed why they are the No. 1 seed in the MAC.

“We did a decent job of competing tonight,” said Head Coach Lisa Carlsen. “Central is a great team, best team in the league for a reason. They did a great job of taking advantage of some of our breakdowns, but I think for the most part, we stayed at it for 40 minutes.”

The Chippewas were led by junior Reyna Frost, who is ranked seventh in the country in rebounds per game, and senior forward Tinara Moore, who is nearly averaging a double-double on the season with 18.9 points and 9.4 rebounds per game.

The Huskies had a hard time defending the potential MAC player of the year in Moore, as she recorded 19 points and seven rebounds by halftime. Moore finished with a career- and game-high of 36 points along with 12 rebounds.

Carlsen said the Huskies had a game plan heading into the matchup but failed to execute it at key moments.

“We knew we had to really force her to catch the ball off the block, and we just didn’t do that consistently enough,” Carlsen said. “Anytime a player that good gets that comfortable, you are in for a long night.”

The Huskies found themselves down by eight points in the first half even after shooting nearly 50 percent from the field.

Junior guard Courtney Woods, who is another potential MAC player of the year candidate, scored 15 points along with four rebounds in the first half. Woods finished with a team-high 30 points and 6 rebounds.

The Huskies defended the 3-point line well, as the Chippewas shot just 31 percent from downtown.

Junior guard Mikayla Voigt, who is fourth in the MAC in assist/turnover ratio, contributed 13 points and 8 assists after playing nearly 35 minutes in the game.

Voigt has now played 34 minutes or more in 17 games this season. 

“If we are going to win ball games, she has got to be on the floor,” Carlsen said. Whether I am worried about it or not is kind of irrelevant. She is in great shape and there are a lot of teams this time of year that are going to leave their best kids for an extended period of time, so it is what is; she’ll be fine.”

The Huskies reduced the lead to just five points with just under a minute remaining in the third quarter but were unable to mount a comeback.

Senior forward Kelly Smith added 25 points on 11-of-18 shooting from the field in the loss.

NIU never led in the second half of the game.

The Huskies have three games remaining in their season. If the season ended today, they would be the No. 9 seed in the MAC West Division.

“Obviously those are three teams that we are chasing in our division with hopes of jumping a spot in order to play a first round MAC team at home, so if that is what we want to do, then we are going have to dig and win these last games to give ourselves that opportunity,” Carlsen said.

NIU will continue their road trip against Eastern Michigan University 1:30 p.m. Saturday in Ypsilanti, Michigan.