Women’s basketball loses to the Redhawks

By Bob Kreider

The Miami Redhawks’ seniors proved to be too much for the NIU women’s basketball team, leading to a 51-65 loss at the Convocation Center on Sunday.

NIU (5-16, 0-8 MAC) lost its ninth straight game to a Miami (14-7, 6-2 MAC) team that has a starting five loaded with experience. The Huskies led 11-6 early in the game, but a 21-7 run put Miami up 27-18 at the half and left the Huskies fighting from behind for the rest of Sunday’s matchup.

The Huskies struggled to protect the ball and gave up 20 turnovers in the game, leading to 22 points for the Redhawks, 12 of which came in the second half. The NIU defense was able to hold Miami to 3-14 shooting from the 3-point line but gave up 26 points in the paint, allowing the Redhawks to shoot 49 percent from the field.

Things got worse for NIU as senior forward Satavia Taylor went down with a knee injury after battling for an offensive rebound and would not return for the rest of the game. Taylor had 13 points and three steals.

NIU head coach Kathi Bennett was unsure as to the severity of the injury.

“All I know is that it’s a knee and we’ll find out soon,” Bennett said.

The Miami offense looked as though they would pull away throughout the second half but a 16-9 Huskie run led by Jada Buggs kept NIU within six points at 42-48. However, Miami closed out the game with a 17-9 run.

Bennett felt that her team didn’t have the energy that has been carrying a hard-nosed Huskie defense.

“Our sense of urgency, I thought, was lacking,” Bennett said. “I thought we started the game out really well, but just the consistency to keep that energy and that focus is what’s killing us right now.”

Bennett has been pushing for the Huskies to get a third scorer to step up and help out the team’s two leading scorers, sophomore point guard Amanda Corral and Taylor. Sophomore forwards Buggs and Jenna Thorp answered the call, combining for 28 points, something Bennett thought would help the team moving forward.

“From a stats standpoint with Jenna [Thorp] scoring and with Jada [Buggs] scoring that gives us a great chance to win ball games,” Bennett said.

Thorp contributed 16 points and eight rebounds while shooting 4-6 from the 3-point line. Already a high motor player, Thorp has looked to improve her offensive contributions as she proved Sunday.

“I’ve been in the gym a lot with coach working on the shot, basically just [getting] more confidence with the shot when I have the open look, to be confident with it, take it and know that it’s going in, don’t second guess it,” Thorp said. “When we have two [guards] back knowing that I can crash hard at the boards and know we can get second chances at the hoop. If I get an offensive board [we can be succesful].”

The spark from Buggs and Thorp wasn’t enough to counteract the stellar 25 points from Miami senior guard Courtney Osborn. Head coach Maria Fantanarosa was “relieved” to come away with a win despite Osborn’s big game offensively and an 10-point, 11-rebound double-double from senior forward Kirsten Olowinski.

“I’m almost relieved about our win today; we came in having a lot of respect for coach Bennett and her defense,” Fantanarosa said. “This team, you have to throw the record away because they play hard for 40 minutes and they challenged us, but this was one of Courtney [Osborn’s] better games in MAC. She was our general.”