Fight night at the Convo; two of MAC’s best

By Chris Jurmann

Welcome everyone to the biggest heavyweight fight of the NIU women’s basketball season.

Tonight we pit two of the greats in the MAC conference to determine once and for all who is the champ.

In this corner, we have the hometown fighter, Jennifer Youngblood. Ninth in the MAC in scoring (14.7) and offensive rebounding (4.0) per contest. Youngblood brings an inside presence few can match.

In the opposite corner, we have Ball State’s Tamara Bowie. A favorite for MAC Player of the Year, Bowie has done little to disappoint, leading the MAC in both scoring (20.2) and blocks (1.72) and placing second in both rebounding (8.7) and field goal percentage (.571).

Let’s get some quick comments from Ball State’s Tracy Roller regarding the matchup.

“I love it when these two go head-to-head. I think Jennifer has strengths that are Tamara’s weaknesses, and Tamara has strengths that are Jennifer’s weaknesses. When they go head-to-head, it’s good because one of them is going to have to work on [her] weaknesses to stop the other … It’s really fun to watch.”

What do you think of these two fine competitors, NIU head coach Carol Hammerle?

“I think they’re both very solid players. I know Tamara was really focused on coming in here [at NIU] because she hasn’t won once in her career here. If she starts out and she’s hot, she’s going to be real confident.”

Youngblood said Bowie has improved her perimeter play, and that has presented the biggest problems for Youngblood. But she was quick to note that both competitors always look forward to the matchup.

So let’s get to the opening bell of the first half with Ball State leading the game 36-27.

Bowie is off to a fast start after a pair of free throws. Youngblood seems to be struggling early; she hasn’t quite found her shooting touch.

Bowie continues to play strong; she has connected on five of her first six shots from the field.

Ding! And that’s the end of the first half.

Bowie seems to have taken a commanding lead in the match with 14 points, four rebounds and three assists.

Youngblood appears to have stumbled out of the gates. She is just two-of-four shooting with five points and six rebounds.

Youngblood appears to have recovered well in the second half. She really is taking control inside.

Bowie appears to be struggling a bit more in the second half; Youngblood really is taking it to the senior.

Ding! And that’s the final bell.

Let’s get some final comments from Roller.

“I would have to say in the first half, Bowie had the edge, but definitely I thought Jennifer had the edge in the second half.”

Youngblood gave a valiant second-half effort. Her final stats for the game, 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting and 13 rebounds.

But the winner, by a final score of 67-58, Tamara Bowie and the Ball State Cardinals. Bowie finishes up with 20 points of her own on 8-of-13 shooting, eight rebounds and four assists.