NIU advances for second round matchup with Bowling Green

By Andrew Hanson

The goal was set the first day of practice for the NIU women’s basketball team: get to Cleveland.

The Huskies achieved that goal with a 73-65 win over Miami at home Saturday in the first round of the MAC Tournament.

Next up for NIU is No. 24-ranked, top-seeded Bowling Green in the quarterfinals, which will be played at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.

Saturday’s win marks the first time NIU (12-16 overall, 7-9 MAC) has made it to the quarterfinals in the MAC tournament since the 2001-02 season.

“I’m very excited for the team,” said NIU head coach Carol Owens. “It’s a huge milestone for the program.”

NIU came out strong, on a 9-0 run to start the game, but Miami (8-20, 3-13) got within one point with less than three minutes left in the half.

The Huskies were able to go on another run before the half ended, giving them a 36-30 lead going into halftime.

NIU shot 54 percent from the field and made 4-7 on three pointers in the first half while holding Miami to 35 percent shooting.

After going back and forth on points to open the second half, a RedHawks run gave them the lead with 15 minutes left.

The Huskies managed to fight back, and a Mary Basic lay up knotted the score at 55-55 with just 6:29 left.

A foul on forward Kristin Wiener opened up the game for the Huskies in the closing minutes.

The junior made the first but missed the second. Guard Stephanie Raymond grabbed the rebound and found junior guard Basic for a shot. Basic was fouled and made both free throws to give NIU a three-point lead with under two and a half minutes left.

Miami wasn’t able to score on its next possession and fouled Raymond, sending her to the free throw line. Raymond made one and missed the second, but Jennifer Uptmor was there for the rebound. After setting up the offense, Wiener made a lay-up to put NIU up by six with 59 seconds left.

Raymond and Basic solidified the win by making all six of their free throws in the final 45 seconds.