Women’s basketball can’t beat CMU

By Frank Gogola

Women’s basketball (6-8, 2-2 MAC) gave MAC favorite Central Michigan (8-8, 4-0 MAC) a run for its money but came up short in a game that went down to the wire.

The Huskies were forced to play the foul game down the stretch but were unable to close the gap. They fell to CMU, 65-60, Wednesday at the McGuirk Arena in Mt. Pleasant.

NIU led 32-29 at the half, but the second stanza became a scoring battle early on. The Chippewas outscored the Huskies 14-12 before the first media timeout (14:01) in a stretch that featured three ties and four lead changes.

After CMU took a 47-44 lead with 12:05 to play, Danny Pulliam hit a 3-pointer that tied the game, 47-47. CMU proceeded to go on a 6-0 run, but NIU fought back with a 5-0 run of its own and trailed by only one, 53-52, at the final media timeout (3:21).

CMU stretched its lead to 59-54 in the closing minutes, and NIU was forced to play the foul game with 28 seconds left. The Chippewas shot 6-8 from the free-throw line in the final 28 seconds and held off NIU, 65-60.

“We fought to the end…,” said head coach Kathi Bennett. “We hit some shot to keep us in it. Just a few mistakes, a free-throw rebound, [we] missed some free throws. … They’re a good team; they’re talented.”

Pulliam led the way for the Huskies with a career-high 18 points. Natecia Augusta tied her career high with 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for her fourth double-double of the season. Amanda Corral added 10 points.

The Huskies shot 37.9 percent (22-58) from the field and 44.4 percent (8-18) from beyond the arc; however, they shot only 47.1 percent (8-17) at the free-throw line. CMU won the rebound battle, 44-38.

CMU’s Crystal Bradford, who was coming off a triple-double Sunday, scored 27 points, grabbed 15 boards, had five steals, recorded three assists and blocked three shots.

“Crystal Bradford won it for them,” Bennett said. “… [If] they don’t have Bradford in the game, they’re not going to win. We did our best on her, we tried to do a few different things, but she just made great plays .… She just had a great game, and I credit her.”

The Huskies opened the game on an 11-2 run in the first 5:08. They stretched their lead to 20-9 at the under-12 media timeout (11:33).

The Chippewas switched to a 2-3 zone defense and began their comeback. They went on a 9-3 run and cut the Huskies’ lead to five, 23-18, with 7:35 to play in the first half.

CMU continued to chip away at the lead and took a 25-24 lead at the 5:14 mark. It was their first lead of the game since they led 2-0.

The Huskies held the Chippewas to four points from there and took a 32-29 lead into the half. The Huskies dominated down low, with 16 of their 32 first-half points coming in the paint.

“I thought part of the success to our defense was we didn’t take bad shots on offense,” Bennett said. “We didn’t want to get caught up in an up-and-down game with them; that’s to their strength. I thought we made them play our way, and that helped our defense and of course held them down. I thought every shot we took [were] good shots. We got good shots, and you can’t ask for more than that.”