Inside game was key to Akron’s dominance over NIU

By Chris Dertz

DeKALB | One play perfectly represented the course of action in NIU’s 72-43 loss to Akron on Saturday afternoon.

At 17:32 in the second half, NIU center Ebony Ellis received a pass in the low block, posted up on her defender, faked to her left and pivoted to her right. Akron’s Kara Murphy was waiting with the double team, and made a clean strip of the ball.

On the ensuing possession, the Zips would miss a three-point shot but grab the offensive rebound, with Murphy closing the circle with her own putback.

It was this type of domination, both on the inside and on defense, that allowed Akron to outclass NIU for all 40 minutes of Saturday’s game. The Zips forced NIU into 22 turnovers, and capitalized by scoring 28 points off of those mistakes. Many of the turnovers were committed when Huskie players tried to drive into the lane and were simply stripped.

“We’ve got to do something about turnovers,” said NIU head coach Kathi Bennett. “We’ve been fortunate. We’ve had 30 turnover games and we’re still in it. That’s not going to happen against good teams.”

The domination inside carried over to the Zips’ offense, where they nearly outscored NIU’s total point output with the points that Akron scored in the paint.

It was Rachel Tecca who outclassed the Huskies post presence the most. Tecca ended the game with 18 points and 13 rebounds, five of which were on the offensive end.

 “You’ve got Rachel Tecca, and she’s one of the best post players in [the MAC],” said Akron head coach Jodi Kest. “We expected there to be two people on her, and at times there wasn’t; it was one-on-one, and we feel like if Tecca is posting up one against one, there’s not too many people in our league that can stop her.”

It was Tecca who exposed the Huskies’ ineptitude in the post on Saturday. She was consistently matched up with Ellis, and while Ellis lead NIU in scoring, the numbers don’t show that a number of the redshirt senior’s shots were highly contested.

It was also Ellis’ responsibility to hold Tecca in check on the defensive end, but it was a futile act.

“[Tecca] pretty much has every part of her game,” Ellis said. “I think she reads her defense very well. That’s mainly how she got most of her points, just by reading the defense. I didn’t do as well as I should have.”