NIU suffers third-straight loss in game against Ohio


By Justin Kelley

DeKALB The women’s basketball team moved to 4-8 on the season after dropping its Mid-American Conference opener Saturday to the Ohio University Bobcats 87-67. This is NIU’s third-straight loss over the winter break, and the first losing streak of the season.

NIU’s last losing streak was in the 2017-18 season where it lost seven straight games from Dec. 21, 2017 to Jan. 31, 2018. NIU would rebound late in the season to finish with a record of 15-15. 

During the current losing streak, NIU has lost by an average of 21 points, struggling to find a groove on offense. In the past three games, NIU has only shot a combined 35.5% from the field, averaging 59 points per game.

Against the Bobcats, NIU shot the ball well from the field, posting a 42.6% shooting percentage.

NIU’s top performer was junior forward Gabby Nikitinaite with 16 points, knocking down four of her six attempts from 3-point territory. The Huskies also received contributions from first-year guard Chelby Koker and redshirt senior forward Courtney Woods. 

Koker scored 10 points for NIU and grabbed three rebounds, while Woods added nine points, five assists and four rebounds.

Ohio was led by its three-headed monster, consisting of senior guard Amani Burke, junior guard Cece Hooks and sophomore redshirt guard Erica Johnson. Johnson had the best game of the three, scoring 23 points, while Burke had 22 points and Hooks finished the game with eight points.

“Obviously those three are very individually talented; they’re a tough matchup for anybody,” Head coach Lisa Carlsen said. “What we tried to do is switch up defenses a little bit, trying to keep them off balanced, but there were spurts were [Johnson] got going, and they strung some 3-pointers together.Your just trying to throw them of their rhythm the best you can, your not going to stop them, you just hope to slow them down.”

Burke, Johnson and Hooks all rank in the Top-15 for points scored per game in the MAC, each averaging double digit points per contest. Burke is ranked eighth in the MAC, averaging 15 points per game, while Hooks is ninth with 14.5 points and Johnson is twelfth with 13.8 points per game 

The Bobcats jumped out to a large lead early in the game, outscoring the Huskies 17-5 through the first seven minutes. NIU was able to cut the deficit to 25-17 at the end of the first quarter, led by Woods and senior forward Ally May with six points each.

Ohio’s momentum carried over to the second quarter as it extended its lead to 50-28, outscoring NIU 25-11 in the quarter. While the Bobcats thrived, NIU struggled in the quarter as it was only able to knock down 30.8% of shots.

Burke led the way for the Bobcats in the second quarter with 11 points, while NIU was led by Woods and Koker with three points each.

Both teams came out cold to start the second half, neither team shooting better than 35.7% from the field. The majority of the points for both teams came from free throws. NIU and Ohio combined to shoot 75% from the free throw line in the third quarter. 

NIU finally started to show some life offensively in the fourth quarter, shooting 53.3% from the field, outscoring the Bobcats 23-19. The late push was not enough as the Bobcats would go on to win 87-67.

NIU’s next game is against the Miami University–Ohio Redhawks 6 p.m Wednesday in Oxford, Ohio.  

“It will be [a] different game from this one,” Carlsen said. “We will have to compete on the boards, [and] we will have to deal with more size than just sheer athleticism and individual talent. So we will have to trust each other and our system defensively, so we can be in the right place to put a body on somebody to allow one tough shot, and that’s it.”