NIU women’s basketball defeats Temple Sunday

By Matt Hopkinson

As the clock expired at the end of the first half, Jenna Thorp drained a buzzer beater from the top of the circle to pull NIU within one against Temple.

Perhaps it was this shot that propelled NIU women’s basketball (2-1) over Temple (2-2) Sunday 58-52, or perhaps it was just solid team defense.

“It was a great team win, some of the best team defense we’ve played,” said NIU women’s basketball coach Kathi Bennett. “I thought our players were focused for 40 minutes to get the job done. [They] never got down went something went wrong, and fired each other up when something went right.”

The game started off ominously with Temple running out to an early 18-9 advantage at about the halfway point of the first half.

With just over a minute left in the first half, NIU had narrowed it to 22-17 behind a balanced team effort. Then came the shot that marked the comeback for the Huskies, as Thorp sank the buzzer beater to make it 22-21 going into the second half.

“I thought it brought more energy going into the second half,” Thorp said. “It pumped us up. I know it pumped me up.”

Going into the second half, it started to turn into the Amanda Corral show, as NIU’s freshman guard began to take over the game.

With just under four minutes left, it was 45-43 NIU, and Corral had 14 points.

Chaos would ensue in the last two minutes because with 1:37 left in the game, NIU’s Courtney Shelton got elbowed in the eye, which drew blood. Ashley Sneed took her free throws, sinking one, bringing the score to 50-47.

With 49 seconds, left Corral made a layup, which was answered by Shey Paddy of Temple with a three, making it 52-50.

Temple cut it to 54-52 once again with 20 seconds left, but that was the closest they would get, as intentional fouls began to run the score up, finishing the game. Corral finished the game with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

“I’ve been more relaxed lately,” Corral said. “Not worried about messing up as much as I was earlier.”

NIU’s defense kept three high scoring Temple players well below their averages, and were able to pull together as a team to beat a team they have only played once last season, which they lost.

“They wanted the game more than we did,” said Temple women’s basketball coach Tonya Cardoza. “We just showed up thinking [NIU] was going to roll over and die. They wanted to win the game and shoved it down our throats every opportunity they had.”