Huskies survive double-overtime thriller

By Eli Gehn

Playing extra time in any sport shows how much tenacity a team really has.

In last night’s game, NIU women’s basketball showed it could play with some extra spring in its step.

The Huskies (1-1) defeated Western Illinois (1-2) 91-84 in double overtime to earn their first win of the 2011-12 season.

“It was tremendous heart,” said NIU coach Kathi Bennett. “We played really hard [for 50 minutes]. I’m just really proud of the effort and energy. You can’t say more about it.”

Huskies’ forward Courtney Shelton rebounded from a frustrating first game by putting up 17 points while drilling three out of five three-pointers.

She also added seven rebounds and was glad to get some open shots as the game went along.

“My team was really getting me open today,” Shelton said. “We were setting great screens on offense. We were executing and it was great to see us work on offense and make stuff happen.”

NIU had multiple opportunities to close the door on the Leathernecks at the end of regulation and first overtime.

Western Illinois was able to rally back each time to extend the game, but the Huskies never lost their intensity.

“A few times, [Western Illinois] battled back, but I think we kept our heads together,” said NIU forward Jenna Thorp. “When we brought it in after the first overtime, we were still hungry, we weren’t going to let that game get away.”

Leatherneck head coach JD Gravina felt his team could have done a better job when each overtime started.

“I felt like being on the road that it was kind of going to be a battle all night,” Gravina said. “We got to figure out a way to start a little bit better; we started poorly. I think we got to figure out how to get ourselves ready to play a little bit better.”

Huskies’ true freshman Amanda Corral led the team with 43 minutes in playing time after playing only 13 minutes against Loyola.

Despite getting her first start of the young season, Corral remained calm and collected throughout the course of the game.

She nearly had a double-double by scoring 10 points and pulling down seven boards.

“The first game to the second game I felt more comfortable getting out there,” Corral said.

Although it was a huge first win for NIU, Bennett knows the season is far from over and there’s much to improve.

“I thought we did a lot better job when we had the ball, just taking care of it [and] completing passes,” Bennett said. “We’re not there yet but that’s something we’ll continue to get better at.”