Women’s basketball regroups after lead scorer injury

By Bob Kreider

The women’s basketball team is approaching the end of its regular season and has three games left before the start of the MAC tournament.

NIU is 7-19, 2-11 MAC and hasn’t been able to win consistently. Injuries have plagued the team and the loss of leading scorer senior forward Satavia Taylor hurt the Huskies offensively. What many people don’t realize is how the Huskies have rallied and gotten key contributions from every player in one way or another.

After Taylor went down, junior guard Ashley Sneed began averaging 10 points per game after only scoring 4.8 points per game for most of the season. Senior forward Shaakira Haywood has been rebounding and playing tough defense in the paint. Freshman guard Alexis Lindstrom took advantage of getting more minutes and has shot well from behind the 3-point line, and redshirt sophomore forward Jenna Thorp has rebounded well while going all out for any loose ball. Bottom line, the team has stepped up even after a tough season of injuries and facing some teams that are more experienced.

Experience is important. Many of the Huskies’ biggest struggles have come against teams that have more juniors and/or seniors in their starting lineup. Head coach Kathi Bennett believes her players are getting the most out of the minutes they are given.

“I was looking out on the floor and we had all sophomores and two freshmen on the floor,” Bennett said. “The experience that they are gaining for next year is invaluable.”

With Taylor out for the season, Haywood is now the only senior on the team that can play. Sneed is the only junior on the team, leaving the rest of the lineup to sophomores and freshmen. Experience is important and, as of right now, is something the Huskies are lacking.

With this core of young players, the Huskies have much to look forward to.

As of now, NIU has to figure out how to get the offense rolling, consistently considering that its defense is ranked third in the MAC in points allowed. When Amanda Corral and Thorp are at the top of their game, the Huskies are hard to beat. Now that the Huskies have shown they can score despite Taylor’s absence, it’s time for everyone to put it together at the same time; not one player one game and another player the next game.

The Huskies’ offense suffers when they are unable to manufacture points in the paint. Getting the ball in the paint early in a possession allows for shooters like Thorp and Corral to get more open looks. Not only does the paint provide higher percentage shots, but forwards like sophomore Natecia Augusta and Haywood can get more free throw opportunities. With the MAC tournament getting closer, the Huskies have to figure out a way to score consistently.