Women’s basketball comes from behind on road

By Katie Leb

For the second time this season, the NIU women’s basketball team played an additional five minutes of basketball.

For the first time, the team claimed victory at the end, taming Buffalo in a decisive overtime period to take the game 61-53, snapping the Bulls’ win streak at four games.

With Saturday’s victory over Buffalo (13-11 overall, 6-5 MAC), the Huskies (10-14, 4-7) look as good as they did last year, statistically at least, by matching their overall and conference win totals from a season ago.

“I don’t think we look to well into our record or even the other teams’ records,” said NIU guard Brittney Callahan. “On any given night anybody can beat anybody right now. We’re just focused on playing how we should be playing.”

NIU had to be focused in Saturday’s win when regulation play came down to the last six seconds. Down 49-46, the team put the ball in the hands of senior guard Marke Freeman to make a play. Freeman was able to draw Bulls’ guard Ashley Zuber off her feet, allowing her to draw a foul from behind the arc.

“She really drew that foul,” said NIU head coach Kathi Bennett. “She shot-faked at the girl from the ground, and the minute she saw that girl leave her feet, jumped, got her through it and did a great job.”

Freeman then went to the line with the game on her shoulders, needing to make all three free throws to send the game into overtime. When she did, Bennett felt she knew the overtime would be theirs to control.

“I think our will was really strong,” Bennett said. “After the end of regulation you can see how bad they wanted it. You felt the momentum swing our way. I felt there was a great energy. We had great leadership; it proved it in overtime.”

The leadership of the seniors was shown especially by center Ebony Ellis, who scored six of her 10 points on two layups and two free throws in the final five minutes. The Huskies were perfect from the line in overtime, going 8-for-8. NIU went 15-for-16 from the line on the night.

What made the victory even better for Bennett was the defensive effort throughout the game, but especially in the overtime when the Huskies completely shut down the Bulls’ rebounding game.

“They didn’t get one rebound in overtime,” Bennett said. “We played a great defensive game. Our half-court defense was really good, and [Buffalo] has great transition. They didn’t get one fast break point.”

The defense needed to be focused on Bulls’ standout Kourtney Brown, who came in averaging 21 points and 12 rebounds. The senior forward led the team with 17 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks.

“The team defense on Kourtney Brown-every time she put it on the floor we had someone digging,” Bennett said.