Youngblood hits 1,000 in NIU win

By Chris Jurmann

Suffering through the loss of two senior starters, a pair of juniors rallied the NIU women’s basketball team to victory Saturday over visiting Marshall 81-74 in a record setting game.

Jennifer Youngblood stole the show early for the Huskies (7-10, 3-3 MAC) as she became just the 20th women in the history of NIU basketball to amass 1,000 points.

“I didn’t even know I reached 1,000 points,” Youngblood said. “I didn’t have a clue and I guess I’d rather have it be that way. It’s an honor … It’s just as much a credit to my teammates as it is to me.”

Needing 19 points, Youngblood scored 20 in the first half on 7-of-8 shooting from the field including one three-point basket and 5-for-5 shooting from the free-throw line.

In the second half, Marshall (5-11, 1-4 MAC) brought extra pressure to Youngblood to try and cut down her scoring.

“We tried to get more help on Youngblood in the second half,” Marshall coach Royce Chadwick said. “We were going to try and do some different rotations to slow her down. We were trying to double down and get our guards to help out. We were still fronting the post trying to deny her, but we couldn’t keep her from catching it. She’s a very good player and basically took advantage of us tonight in a lot of situations.”

Despite attempting five field goals in the game, Youngblood managed to tie her career-high of 26 points, and also added in 11 rebounds and three assists.

Not to be outdone, Marshall’s Ida Dotson, set her own career-high mark in scoring with 27 points on 11-for-17 shooting. The 5-foot-9 senior guard, who is profoundly deaf, also had six rebounds and three blocks.

“Ida has been in a slump for the majority of the season,” Chadwick said. “It’s really encouraging for our team and our program for her to break out of that. When Ida gets going, she can do some miraculous things to get the ball in the hole. She carried us a lot through a couple of tough stretches with her offense.”

NIU, already missing senior forward Kim Boeding who is battling a case of vertigo, found itself on a roll early, up by as much as 30-11.

However, with 6:18 left to play in the first half, the mood changed quickly as Kristin Knake took a fall to the floor. The game was stopped and underwent an official timeout as assistants attended to Knake with an injured left ankle underneath the NIU basket.

Knake left the game and did not return, but remained on the team’s bench and walked around on crutches for the rest of the afternoon. She will undergo X-rays to determine the condition of her ankle.

With Knake out, the Thundering Herd was able to capitalize, finishing the half on a 21-8 run to tie the game by intermission, 40-40.

With the injuries to Boeding and Knake and the defense now eyeing Youngblood, Lindsay Secrest stepped up in the second half to rescue the Huskies on the way to victory. Secrest scored 19 of her season high 21 points in the second half, also adding three rebounds and a pair of assists.

Throughout the game, NIU showed an offensive prowess not yet seen this year as they compiled a season high 81 points on 47.5 percent shooting combined with a season-low 10 turnovers.

“Even though we were struggling on the defensive end sometimes, we would come down on offense and make great plays,” Secrest said. “We had some back-doors and three-point plays. All that stuff just gets you going. Even though it was a close score the whole game, I felt like we were going to come out with the victory.”

Marshall kept in the game with its guard play and free-throw shooting. The Thundering Herd’s guards scored 54 of the teams 74 points, and the team finished 26-for-29 from the free-throw line.

The Huskies improved to 6-2 at the Convocation Center, but their next two tests against Ohio Wednesday and Bowling Green Saturday will come on the road where they are winless for the season.