CMU cruises past NIU

By Eli Gehn

Without forward Claire Jakubicek, NIU women’s basketball suffered its second consecutive 20-point loss.

The Huskies (12-14, 6-8 MAC) fell to Central Michigan (14-14, 6-8 MAC) Wednesday 73-50.

“Losing Claire has been a big loss for us,” said NIU assistant coach Shannon Baugh. “She was able to contribute so much on both ends of the floor, but as a team, we’ve been able to prepare without her. Each person knows they have to step up a little bit more.”

The matchup was even during the first half until the Chippewas went on a 20-8 run heading into the half.

“The mood was a little down, but that’s to be expected because they felt that they’re better than what they showed toward the end of the half,” Baugh said. “The way we came out in the second half should’ve been more like that at the end of the first half.”

But Central Michigan didn’t let its foot off the pedal as the second half continued. Throughout the game, the Chippewas drained 11 shots from beyond the arc, shooting 44 percent.

The Huskies had a stout defensive mentality all season, which has been a reason to their success the past couple of months. But a number of mental breakdowns on defense led to the overall defeat for NIU.

“We’re not going to be one of those teams, as we’ve shown throughout the season, that’s going to put 60 or 70 points on the board,” said NIU senior Courtney Shelton. “They’re a great team; you got to give them credit. But on our side, we got to pick it up on the defensive end.”

NIU has had trouble in limiting its amount of turnovers all season. Wednesday was no different as the Huskies committed 19 turnovers, 10 of which were steals.

“It’s mental lapses on our part,” Baugh said. “We try to force things that aren’t really there. We’re not that type of team.”

Chippewas forward Taylor Johnson had a season-high 20 points to go along with 10 rebounds.

Shelton led the Huskies with 12 points, shooting two of three from beyond the arc and sophomore Alicia Johnson added nine points of her own going 50 percent from the field.

With only two games remaining in the regular season, the Huskies need to gain some momentum heading into the MAC tournament.

“These might be the biggest games yet,” Baugh said. “Our backs are against the wall, and we got to just fight our way out and try to fight our way back to the way we were.”