Losing streak at five for women’s basketball

By Ryan Ostry

DeKALB — The women’s basketball team could not get over the hump Wednesday in Athens, Ohio as it dropped its fifth consecutive contest, losing to the Ohio Bobcats 77-75 in a game that came down to the wire.

“There’s a few things that remain consistent. This group continues to play until the final buzzer,” said Head Coach Lisa Carlsen. “It’s always going to be a positive when they continue to fight and believe.”

The Huskies started off the game playing a 2-3 zone defense trying to test the Bobcats perimeter game as Ohio came into play dead last in the Mid-American Conference in 3-point shooting.

NIU (10-9, 2-5 MAC) was led by the leading scorer in the MAC, junior guard Courtney Woods, who posted a seven-rebound, four-assist stat line in the first quarter.

The Bobcats out-hustled the Huskies while winning the majority of the 50-50 balls and led NIU by a score of 19-16 heading into the second quarter.

The Huskies came to life in the second quarter with a 9-0 run, getting contributions from everyone.

The Huskies had nine people see the floor in the game, including freshman guard Errin Hodges and senior guard Georgia Breunig.

Though both teams stepped it up in the second quarter, NIU and Ohio both shot under the 40 percent mark and went into halftime with nine turnovers each.

Katie Barker, Bobcats redshirt sophomore guard, spearheaded the way for Ohio with nine points while pushing the up-tempo pace for the young Bobcats.

Going into halftime, the Huskies held a 37-32 lead.

Barker kept up the momentum in the third quarter shooting 60 percent from behind the arc.

Freshman guard Gabby Nikitinaite shot 75 percent, giving the Huskies a viable option from the 3-point line, increasing the team percentage to 43 percent.

Though NIU committed 16 turnovers through three quarters, junior guard Mikayla Voigt orchestrated the offense by dishing out five assists and keeping her teammates involved.

Ohio pushed the pace a little more in the third quarter heading into the final period of play with an 58-52 lead.

The fourth quarter was sparked with fast pace intensive play with the Huskies going on a 7-0 run within the last 30 seconds of the game.

Woods tied the game with a contested layup with 12 seconds remaining in the game.

With a 75-75 game with just four seconds remaining, Woods dribbled the ball up the court to see it pickpocketed by Ohio resulting in a steal for the game-winning layup for an Ohio victory.

“They just made a great play,” Carlsen said. “She just stole the ball in the backcourt and gave her team an opportunity.”

Barker finished with 24 points to lead Ohio, while senior forward Kelly Smith finished with an 18-point, 12-rebound effort.

Ohio forced NIU into 21 turnovers, close to its season average of 24 forced turnovers per game, while adding 15 steals to the mix.

“We have to keep working on taking care of the basketball,” Carlsen said. “We can’t turn it over 20 plus times, especially on the road and expect a positive outcome.”

The Huskies will look to break their five-game skid as they will tip off against the Ball State Cardinals 1:30 p.m. Saturday in Muncie, Indiana.