Women’s basketball loses nailbiter

By Katie Leb

Severe winter weather may have cancelled classes, but NIU women’s basketball took the court Tuesday night at the Convocation Center.

Taking on defending MAC champions in Bowling Green, the Huskies battled to the last second, but came up shy in a 67-64 defeat in front of 124 fans.

“We knew with the circumstances there wouldn’t be many fans,” guard Marke Freeman said. “You still got to throw on that jersey and the same things are expected.”

Both teams gave the fans a hard-fought battle, with the largest lead of the night coming in favor of the Falcons (18-4 overall, 6-3 MAC) at 30-22 late in the first half.

The starters were the story in this one, though.

The starting five on either side accounted for all but 11 of the game’s points. Freeman stole the offense for the Huskies (9-13, 3-6) scoring the team’s first 14 points before forward Kim Davis hit jumper to add into the mix.

Freeman would also close the game with the team’s final six points to put her at 26 for the game.

“We overcame a great game by Marke Freeman who single-handedly almost beat us,” Falcons’ head coach Curt Miller said. “I thought we did a great job on everyone else.”

Miller said he was looking to contain Freeman and shut down players such as guard Courtney Shelton and center Ebony Ellis.

Shelton was able to tally eight points, while Ellis knocked down 10 points and grabbed eight rebounds.

Five rebounds and eight of Ellis’ points came in a five-minute span in the middle of the second half, to help the Huskies battle for and take the lead.

Bianca Brown dropped two of her four points on a jumper to grab the Huskies’ largest lead of the night at 58-52 with 5:57 left.

“I fed off my teammates who were doing so well,” Ellis said of the stretch. “I figured I had to get in there and do something and help them out. Everyone else had chipped in; it was just my turn.”

Late in the second half, while battling the boards, it appeared Davis injured part of her leg, while teammate Danielle Pulliam went out with a calf injury late in the middle of the second half.

Both players would return for the Huskies, and NIU head coach Kathi Bennett said they are not cause for concern.

“They’re more hurt emotionally and stung,” Bennett said. “The effort put in is all in and it hurts. That’s a really good sign.”