Huskies fall to Cards for second time in season

By Andrew Hanson

MAC tournament fate was in the NIU women’s basketball team’s hands in Tuesday’s season-ending game at Ball State, but after the game, first-round home court hopes were dimmed.

The Huskies needed a win to clinch the fourth slot in the MAC West and assure a home game in the tournament, but were not able to as they were defeated by the Cardinals 65-53.

NIU will now have to rely on a Central Michigan loss against Western Michigan in order to secure the fourth spot in the MAC West and a home game in the conference tournament.

“Obviously, we can’t afford to get down at this time,” NIU coach Carol Owens said. “We have to look forward to the postseason and decide exactly what we’re going to do on Saturday.”

Ball State came out firing, making its first five shots of the game, and taking a quick 14-7 lead six minutes into the first half.

NIU (11-16 overall, 7-9 MAC) struggled through the half, shooting 37 percent on 10 of 27 shooting and not making one three pointer, going 0 for 6 from beyond the arc.

The Cardinals (16-11, 9-7) shot 46 percent while going three for five on three-pointers and closing out the half with a 31-22 lead.

In the second half, the Huskies were making the shots. NIU went on a 12-0 run to tie the score 36-36 with less than 14 minutes in the game.

Of the 12-point run, junior forward Kristin Wiener scored six of them, leading all scorers with 24 points and tying a career high.

“I thought Kristin Wiener played very well and kept us in the game,” Owens said.

Getting the ball to Wiener in the post was junior guard Stephanie Raymond whose eight assists led the game. Raymond also added0 12 points.

But Ball State wouldn’t back down. The Cardinals went on a 9-0 run with less than seven minutes left and was able to maintain a double-digit lead through the rest of the game.

“We got lucky to get Northern Illinois after a tough Sunday through Tuesday swing for them,” Ball State coach Tracy Roller said. “They were fatigued and it was certainly to our advantage.”

For the game, the Huskies shot 37 percent from the field and made one three pointer after making a season-high 15 in their previous game. Despite the loss, NIU still dominated the boards, out rebounding Ball State 46-29.

The Cardinals shot 40 percent from the field and made six three pointers. Ball State went 19-25 from the free-throw line while the Huskies shot only 12 free throws, making eight.

“We have to collect ourselves and regain our shooting touch,” Owens said.