Women’s basketball ends season with win, headed to Ypsilanti for tourney

By Frank Gogola

Women’s basketball will hit the road for its first-round playoff game despite closing out its 2013-14 regular season with a win.

The Huskies (10-18, 6-12 MAC) defeated the Western Michigan Broncos (12-17, 8-10 MAC), 59-51, during Senior Day today at the Convocation Center.

After trailing for the vast majority of the first half, the Huskies took their first lead of the second half, 34-33, on an Amanda Corral 3-pointer with 17:55 to play.

After a brief 40-40 tie, the Huskies took a 42-40 lead on a Corral jumper with 12:07 to play and never looked back.

Their lead ballooned as big as 12 points, 56-44, with under two minutes to play, and they went on to win, 59-51.

“I thought we defensively did a lot of good things,” Bennett said. “We knew that they were really going to set a lot of ball screens. Early on we struggled, got down but really came back with our defense. I’m just proud of them.”

Freshman Ally Lehman paced the Huskies with a career-high 16 points, and Corral added 13 points.

The Huskies shot 48 percent (22-46) from the field, holding EMU to 36 percent (20-55) shooting. Bennett said she thought the better shooting percent was because NIU got better shots.

“I thought we were more patient,” Bennett said. “I thought we were definitely more poised.”

The No. 9 seed Huskies will take on the No. 8 seed Eastern Michigan Eagles (17-12, 7-11 MAC) 4 p.m. Monday at the EMU Convocation Center in Ypsilanti, Mich.

NIU needed a win, an EMU loss and some help from other teams due to tiebreakers to host a first-round game; however, EMU secured the home court advantage by beating Central Michigan, 99-84, in overtime Saturday at the EMU Convocation Center.

NIU and EMU met twice during the regular season, which each team winning on its home court.

The Huskies defeated the Eagles, 77-54, Jan. 12 in DeKalb, and EMU took down NIU, 54-45, March 2 in Ypsilanti, Mich.

“Eastern [Michigan] tries to keep the ball out of the middle,” said head coach Kathi Bennett. “They’ll take that away. I think against them we’re going to have to ball screen a little bit and do a little bit more of our four-out. … Going against Western [Michigan] and what they just did to us is a great builder [for the game] against Eastern Michigan.”