Womens basketball falls to Central Michigan

By Jacob Onak

In its final home game of the season, the women’s basketball team was routed by the Central Michigan Chippewas, 82-61.

Senior forward Shaakira Haywood was proud of the way NIU started the Senior Day game.

“I definitely think we started out really strong,” Haywood said. “They weren’t ready to handle that. They didn’t think we would come out as the way we did. I think in the second half they came out they got a little more confident in their shots and whatever their coach said at halftime, they come out a little harder. We just needed to respond a little bit more.”

After the Huskies (7-21, 2-13 MAC) and the Chippewas (17-11, 11-4 MAC) traded baskets early, NIU started to find its rhythm offensively. The Huskies started driving to the hoop, which opened up outside shooters as the Central Michigan defense would collapse on the driver.

The first half had a quick tempo, which both teams seemed to embrace. However, it was NIU that took advantage of its open shots and executed offensively. Toward the end of the first half the Chippewas started to crawl back into the game.

At halftime the Huskies were up 40-36 thanks to plays from sophomore guard Amanda Corral, who had 16 first-half points, and redshirt sophomore forward Jenna Thorp, who added eight of her own.

NIU didn’t live up to its first-half performance. It came out of halftime and Central Michigan made quick baskets to tie up the game. The Chippewas then took the lead thanks to defensive changes and strong bench play from junior forward Taylor Johnson.

Johnson came out, hit big 3-pointers and sparked an offense that dropped 46 points in the second half. The Chippewas ended the game with five players scoring in double digits. They were led by sophomore guard Brandie Baker, who had 20 points, six assists and four rebounds.

Central Michigan head coach Sue Guevara said her team took control in the second half.

“I thought that in the second half I thought we changed our defense up and we caused some turnovers and we caused some quick shots,” Guevara said. “We were able to take control of the rebounds and we were able to get down the floor and take some easy shots and I think that’s what changed the game.”

The one second half positive for the Huskies was the shooting of freshman guard Alexis Lindstrom. Lindstrom went 6-10 from the field and 4-7 from behind the 3-point line to end the night with 18 points, tying Corral for a team-high.

NIU head coach Kathi Bennett thought her team just gassed out at the end of the game.

“If it was a 31-minute game we’d be right there; just the last nine minutes got away from us,” Bennett said. “Johnson came in and hit some 3s, but again I thought we took a step and improved a great deal. They are a very good team and very talented and I thought we broke them down, just got fatigued at the end.”

Despite the loss on Senior Day, Haywood couldn’t say a bad thing about NIU or the Huskies’ basketball program.

“It was a little bit emotional but I definitely think I couldn’t be more proud of me team, Haywood said. “[I’m proud of] being at NIU, the coaches, the program, so it is a little bittersweet, but I’m definitely more grateful than anything.”