NIU off to its best start in school history

Ally LehmanSenior guard

By Eddie Garcia

NIU 101, Ball State 96

DeKALB — The women’s basketball team (15-5, 8-1 Mid-American Conference) is off to its best start in school history after defeating Ball State University (14-7, 7-2), 101-96, Saturday at the Convocation Center.

“That was a hard-fought ball game and as a fan, that was a great basketball game to watch because it had a little bit of everything,” Head Coach Lisa Carlsen said. “We stayed confident on both ends of the floor, and I think we did a great job of competing on the glass, and that’s always a big key for us—making sure we rebound on the defensive boards so we can get out and go.”

In Carlsen’s second season as Head Coach, she has turned the Huskies around from being MAC bottom dwellers, (12-17, 8-10 MAC) in 2014-15 and (11-19, 4-14 MAC) in 2015-16, her first season as Head Coach, to the top of the MAC this season.

The Huskies, who claimed sole possession of first place in the MAC East division with the victory over Ball State, were held to just 3-for-10 shooting as it was a slow start for the league’s top-scoring team. Ball control was an issue for the Huskies in the first half as Ball State capitalized on 12 points off the Huskies 12 first half turnovers.  

NIU was able to get back on track in the second quarter as they outscored Ball State, 25-21, with the help of sophomore guard Courtney Woods and with 12 first half points. Woods led the Huskies on offense as she finished with 21 points and eight rebounds on 5-for-10 from behind the arc. The sophomore guard is averaging three, 3-point field goals per game and has made 61 3-point field goals on the season.

With 10 seconds remaining in the second quarter, freshman guard Janae Poisson committed the team’s 12 turnover of the half to give possession to Ball State. The Cardinals were then able score off the turnover as junior guard Frannie Frazier hit a go-ahead 3-point field goal to give Ball State a 46-44 halftime lead.

Senior guard Ally Lehman recorded her 12 double-double of the season with 18 points and 11 assists as she was two rebounds shy of a triple-double, finishing with eight. Lehman shot 58 percent in the game on 7-for-12 shooting from the field.

NIU shot 9-of-16 in the third quarter as they outscored Ball State, 27-21, to maintain a 71-67 lead headed into the fourth quarter. 

NIU converted eight of its last nine shots and finished the game shooting 73 percent from the field in the fourth quarter.

Four Huskies finished in double figures with Poisson scoring 18 points on 6-for-9 from the field and 4-for-6 from behind the arc. Sophomore guard Mikayla Voigt finished with 15 points on 5-for-7 from the field and went a perfect 3-for-3 from behind the arc. 

NIU made 13 total 3-point field goals as the team shot an outstanding 52 percent from three-point range. The Huskies went 14-for-16 from the free-throw line as they rank fourth in the Nation in free throw shooting percentage averaging 79 percent overall as a team.

The Huskies look to extend their win streak to four games 1 p.m. Saturday as they return to the Convocation Center to face the Western Michigan University Broncos in an Alumni Day double-header.