Bench play leads Huskies past Falcons

By Eddie Garcia

DeKALB — The women’s basketball team extended its three-game winning streak Saturday as it came back from an 11-point deficit to beat Bowling Green State University (10-14, 2-11 Mid-American Conference) 73-68.

The Huskies (13-11, 5-8 MAC) came out firing on all cylinders with an 8-2 run fueled by back-to-back 3-point field goals from junior guards Courtney Woods and Mikayla Voigt in the opening two minutes of the game.

However, the hot hands did not last long, as nearly half of the Huskies’ shot attempts in the first quarter were 3-point field goals. NIU struggled on 2-for-13 from behind the arc while shooting 33 percent overall in the first half.

“It was not a situation where we needed to force the ball from behind the arc, and I think we did that especially early in the game,” said Head Coach Lisa Carlsen. “I think that we hurt ourselves a little bit when we took shots we didn’t need to take from behind the arc, especially early in the game and early in the shot clock.”

Woods led the first half in scoring with 11 points and eight rebounds. She finished with her seventh double-double of the season and a game-high 29 points, 12 rebounds and four assists.

Woods said she dedicates her success primarily to the coaching staff, as they draw up plays that put her in the right position to be a scoring threat.

“My coaches do a really great job of designing plays that get me the ball in the right [place], and my teammates do a great job of finding me there,” Woods said. “It is a very simple game if you know what you are good at, and my coaches do a very good job of getting me the ball where I am good with it.”

Sophomore forward Abby Woollacott gave the Huskies an offensive spark off the bench, as she scored 10 points on a perfect 5-of-5 from the field in the first half.

Woollacott finished the game with a career-high 19 points on 8-for-11 shooting from the field.

She registered 19 of the team’s 21 bench points in just 19 minutes of playing time on the court.

“They left me down in the paint, and [our] guards did a really good job of finding the open player,” Woollacott said. “I don’t think that I really created any of my shots, the guards did that for me, so just being in the right position at the right time.”

The Huskies went ahead with 3:20 remaining in the third quarter after a field goal by Voigt gave NIU a 50-48 lead.

Voigt supplemented the offense, playing all 40 minutes or more for the 10th time this season. She finished the game with 15 points, five rebounds and six assists.

NIU shot nearly 47 percent in the third quarter and outscored the Falcons 26-14.

“There [were] some key stretches where I thought we looked pretty good defensively, and we had some kids really pursue the basketball,” Carlsen said. “We have to take care of the basketball, and we have to rebound the basketball. If we do those things, good things will happen.”

The Falcons brought the game within three points with just over 10 seconds remaining in the game, but the Huskies sealed a victory with two free throws by redshirt junior guard Nicole Orr.

“We’ve been in a lot of situations like that, both on the winning end and the losing end, so they are not new situations for the kids that are on the floor, and I don’t think we panicked,” Carlsen said. “We were able to keep the ball alive on the offensive glass, and those are all situations where I think the kids are comfortable in understanding what needs to be done.”

The Huskies will look to continue their momentum with a game against Ball State University 1 p.m. Saturday at the Convocation Center.