Women’s hoops wins at buzzer

By Ryan Ostry

The women’s basketball team electrified the Convocation Center Saturday after trailing for the majority of the game, as a game-winner on a turnaround fade away shot by senior forward Kelly Smith gave the Huskies a 96-94 victory in their home opener.

“I would’ve expected [the game] to come down to one or two possessions, and that’s exactly what happened,” Head Coach Lisa Carlsen said. “We were lucky enough to be on the positive side of that, and I’m really proud of the way we continued to fight when things weren’t necessarily going our way.”

{{tncms-inline account=”TopShelf_NIU” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Buzzer beater for the <a href="https://twitter.com/GoHuskiesWBB?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@GoHuskiesWBB</a> WIN! Kelly Smith the turnaround J to complete the comeback! <a href="https://t.co/dbCGMxbRlW">pic.twitter.com/dbCGMxbRlW</a></p>— Top Shelf Sports (@TopShelf_NIU) <a href="https://twitter.com/TopShelf_NIU/status/931990344065052677?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">November 18, 2017</a></blockquote>” id=”931990344065052677″ type=”twitter”}}

The Leathernecks got off to a quick 6-0 lead after a couple of 3-point field goals to give them early momentum.

After a couple 3-point field goals by sophomore guard Janae Poisson, the Huskies had an up-tempo first quarter where they trailed 29-22 while committing nine turnovers.

Junior guard Courtney Woods inched NIU back in the game with her 3-point shooting, resulting in a 6-for-12 night behind the 3-point line.

Western also had success from downtown, as it shot 47 percent in the first half led by 32 points from senior guard Morgan Blumers.

Heading into halftime, the Huskies trailed with a score of 51-42 and committed 13 turnovers.

After a slow start to the game from junior guard Mikayla Voigt, she started to heat up for NIU, as she scored the majority of her 16 points in the third quarter.

Even though NIU only led in the game for 1:46, the Huskies continued to pound the boards and out-rebound Western Illinois 50-34.

Redshirt sophomore forward Ally May led the Huskies on the boards with 16, as she eclipsed the double-double mark with 10 points as well. Both were career-highs for May.

A scary moment occurred late in the third quarter, as Poisson had to be helped off the court with an apparent knee injury, in which she did not return.

“We will have to evaluate tonight and tomorrow and see where [Janae] is at, hopefully she is [fine], but I have not heard anything,” Carlsen said.

Going into the fourth quarter, Woods started to get double teamed as her hot hand led NIU with 39 points, also a career-high for her.

“I knew coming into this year, I was definitely focusing on how I can still get shots up because that’s something I really struggled with last year when they decided to pressure me more,” Woods said. “Me and Mikayla on the wing are very good shooters, and they have to respect both of us, but they can’t guard both at the same time.”

With a back-and-forth game in the last couple minutes, Western Illinois regained the lead with 40 seconds left after a 3-point field goal.

{{tncms-inline account=”_krystalmegan” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The final minutes in today’s <a href="https://twitter.com/GoHuskiesWBB?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@GoHuskiesWBB</a> game were some of the most exciting moments in a sports game I’ve experienced <a href="https://t.co/33l1ZJJgtt">pic.twitter.com/33l1ZJJgtt</a></p>— Krystal Megan (@_krystalmegan) <a href="https://twitter.com/_krystalmegan/status/931993033909956609?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">November 18, 2017</a></blockquote>” id=”931993033909956609″ type=”twitter”}}

Woods got fouled and made both free throws, tying up the game at 94-94 with under 10 seconds to go.

After a Leatherneck missed shot and a NIU timeout, the Huskies inbounded the ball to Smith at the free-throw line and watched her turn around and sink the game-winning shot to win their first home game by a score of 96-94.

“I thought it was going to roll out,” Smith said. “I haven’t really shot that turnaround in awhile, but I think it helps that we were tied and the pressure wasn’t too bad.”

{{tncms-inline account=”SeanTFrazier” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Now that is what I'm talking about😉👍🏽👏🏽 Great hard fought win <a href="https://twitter.com/GoHuskiesWBB?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@GoHuskiesWBB</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Won?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Won</a>'tBeDenied Forward <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NIU?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NIU</a> <a href="https://t.co/WmiiWUrR0a">https://t.co/WmiiWUrR0a</a></p>— Sean T. Frazier (@SeanTFrazier) <a href="https://twitter.com/SeanTFrazier/status/931992864640430081?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">November 18, 2017</a></blockquote>” id=”931992864640430081″ type=”twitter”}}

After the game ended, the crowd stuck around to watch the ceremonial banner raising for the 2016-17 Huskies team who made an appearance in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament.

The Huskies will return to action 7 p.m. Monday when they take on the Chicago State University Cougars in Chicago.