Women’s basketball finds a way to win against Indiana Wesleyan in exhibition play

By Jacob Onak

NIU women’s basketball grinded out a 45-42 victory against a tough Indiana Wesleyan/ls group in its exhibition game at the Convocation Center Monday.

After coming out and scoring five quick points, the Huskies struggled to find an attacking rhythm in the first half, trying to force shots while not looking for the extra pass.

Red shirt sophomore guard/forward Jenna Thorp was a bright spot offensively for the Huskies in the first half. Thorp was 3-3 with seven points and nine rebounds in 13 minutes of play.

“I think we stuck with it [offensively],” Thorp said. “We had our ups and downs but I feel like when we had our downs we composed ourselves where other years I think we got rattled and we encouraged each other more and got back with it.”

Thorp was right, as in the final minutes of the first half the Huskies found the patient play they needed, putting up a couple late points to make the game, 20-17, going into half time.

The second half both teams were even. NIU put in a physical shift on the defensive end, forcing the Wildcats to the free throw line. The Wildcats, however, stayed in the game going 16-22 from the line.

Wildcat forward Paige Smith led Indiana Wesleyan with 16 points, nine total rebounds, two assists and was a tough mark for the Huskies forwards.

As the game winded down, sophomore guard Amanda Corral hit two clutch free throws to put the Huskies up with 21 seconds left in the game, putting pressure on the Wesleyan offense as it needed a two-pointer to tie the game.

The Huskies defense held strong as Wildcat guard Claire Ray threw up a contested three point shot only to see it bounce off the rim and fall comfortably into the Huskies arms.

Coach Kathi Bennett said the Wildcats were a tough test for the Huskies, one which they needed as they start regular season play.

“It was a good win for us because that’s a really disciplined hard-nosed team that can shoot it and execute their offense incredibly well,” Bennett said. “I think we got to sure up our sloppiness with the ball. [We were] not real tough, we had some turnovers that shouldn’t happen but we don’t have a lot of experience and this was a great game for us to get that experience in a tight game against a disciplined team.”

Corral ended the game with 12 points, and said the Huskies are ready to be known as a defensive force.

“Defensively I thought we did pretty good,” Corral said. “We got a lot of stops when we needed to, I think pressuring the ball is getting better, getting help earlier. Offensively we didn’t knock down a lot of shots but I think it’s just the nerves and I think we’ll get better. It’s something that will come as we keep playing, it’s always fixable.”

A representative from Indiana Wesleyan was not available to comment in the game.