Huskies edge Salukis at home

By Eli Gehn

It was a battle between the north and south of Illinois Tuesday night at the Convocation Center.

NIU women’s basketball (3-3) defeated Southern Illinois (2-3) in thrilling fashion 53-50 in a game that could’ve went either way.

“I think, importantly, it wasn’t pretty. We made a ton of mistakes but you do have to learn how to win games” said NIU coach Kathi Bennett. “Somehow, some way, we found a way [to win], and I think that’s a good sign.”

The game was back and forth as it consisted of 10 lead changes and nine ties.

Freshman guard Amanda Corral led the way for the Huskies, playing all 40 minutes and finishing with 17 points on 8-12 shooting while notching up six rebounds.

“It’s just what [SIU’s defense was] giving me,” Corral said. “Some of them were helping [defensively], and I was just being aggressive and taking it in and if I drew somebody, I’d kick [it out].”

Huskie freshman Natecia Augusta put up a career-high 14 points with four rebounds. Augusta’s role has increased over the course of the last three games.

“I’ve seen the offensive talent and potential from Natecia in practice and we just got to get it more consistent,” Bennett said.

With a steady paced game as the second half continued, NIU had the game’s largest lead with eight points with just over three minutes remaining.

But a late rally by the Salukis put the Huskies on their heels with under a minute to go. Southern Illinois went on a 9-0 run to take the lead 50-49 with 40 seconds left in regulation.

“I think we made some mental errors with some fouling, matching up,” Bennett said. “I do believe our defense at the end kept contesting shots, and we did a good job getting the defensive glass.”

NIU dominated the Salukis on the boards by pulling down 49 compared to Southern’s 34.

Huskies forward Kim Davis led the game with 13 rebounds, which included 7 on the offensive side.

“Kim was crazy on,” Bennett said. “That’s the difference, is the little things in a game like that when there’s a lot of mistakes being made. I feel like rebounding, things like that, come into play.”

NIU was without forward Jenna Thorp and guard Danny Pulliam, two key players in its gameplan.

Forward Courtney Shelton had a down game as well, but without Thorp and Pulliam, and the struggling game of Shelton, the Huskies were able to pull off the victory.

“[Shelton] wasn’t her usual self. We didn’t have Jenna. Hopefully, we’re going to get her back soon, and then without Danny, that’s tough,” Bennett said. “We really rallied and I thought it was really good we found a way to win without them.”