Women’s basketball falters twice


Junior Amanda Corral dribbles the ball down the court during Thursday’s game against Buffalo at the Convocation Center. NIU lost, 63-52.

By Frank Gogola

Women’s basketball (7-10, 3-4 MAC) lost back-to-back games for only the second time this season, as it endured too many offensive droughts in a pair of conference games.

The Huskies hosted the Buffalo Bulls (11-7, 4-3 MAC) Thursday at the Convocation Center, but a second-half offensive meltdown led to their demise in a 63-52 loss.

On Sunday, they traveled to the Stroh Center in Bowling Green, Ohio, to square off with the Falcons (16-3, 6-1 MAC). After a poor offensive showing in the first half, the Huskies were unable to complete a second-half comeback.

Despite out-shooting and out-rebounding Buffalo in the first half, NIU trailed by one, 24-23, at the intermission. Redshirt junior forward Jenna Thorp led all players in points (eight) and rebounds (five) in the first half.

The Huskies opened the second half with a promising 6-0 run, but things got ugly quickly. They surrendered runs of 10-0 and 11-0 to the Bulls in the second half.

NIU shot 17.4 percent (4-23) from the field in the first 17 minutes of the second half before adding some garbage-time buckets. The Huskies trailed by 18 with 1:05 to play but outscored the Bulls 11-4 in the final 48 seconds, which made the final score, 63-52, slightly misleading.

“It’s just our spacing was off a little,” said head coach Kathi Bennett. “I just felt like we were running around and playing very individually. We weren’t playing together at all.”

The Huskies, who committed only four fouls in the first half, were tabbed for 16 fouls in the second stanza.

“We were a step slow defensively,” Bennett said. “I felt because we weren’t hitting shots, it affected us defensively. We gotta be alert, and I just thought we were a step behind and ended up fouling. When you hold a team to 63 [points] and they shoot 27 free throws, you’ve done your job defensively, and just second half, we didn’t have the energy to maintain what we did in the first half.”

Thorp recorded her first career double-double, as she finished with a season-high 12 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.

“That’s tremendous,” Bennett said. “That’s one of her best games. She did everything: kept the ball alive, defended, scored. She had a great game. It’s too bad we couldn’t get a win out of it because she deserved it. She was incredible.”

She saved multiple possessions for the Huskies, including one toward the end of the first half when she threw her body into the scorer’s table, successfully saving the ball to a teammate.

“Today I just seemed to have a nose for the ball,” Thorp said. “When it came off the rim, I think [I was] just staying aggressively that way. Coach has always said, ‘Try to be the X-factor on the floor,’ so I guess that’s just what I had a mentality [Thursday].”

The Huskies’ offensive drought continued when they took on Bowling Green Sunday. They shot 24.1 percent (7-29) from the field in the first half, while the Falcons connected on 50 percent (12-24) of their attempts.

NIU and BGSU were tied 8-8 with 13:01 to play in the first half, but the Huskies were only able to post nine points in the final 13 minutes. The Falcons held a 32-17 lead at the intermission.

The Huskies trailed by as many as 20 points in the second half. They cut the deficit to nine, 47-38, with 6:58 to play, but turnover prevented them from getting any closer; it was the closest they had been since trailing 20-11 in the first half.

They were outscored 10-6 down the stretch and fell to the Falcons, 57-44. It was the Huskies’ lowest offensive output since the season opener, when they fell, 78-44, at Green Bay.

“For us, there’s no moral victories,” Bennett said. “I know we fought to the end, and we played extremely hard. Defensively, we held a very talented team down and did some really good things on that end.

“My challenge to all of us is [that] against better teams and better talent, we have to be able to still keep you composure, body control, shoot the ball, finish. And that’s what’s missing.”