Women’s basketball’s winning streak ends with loss to Western Michigan University

Senior+forward+Mikayla+Brandon+%28from+the+left%29+and+Myia+Starks+get+back+on+defense+Feb.+15+during+NIU%E2%80%99s+68-65+loss+to+the+Western+Michigan+University+Broncos+at+the+Convocation+Center.

Senior forward Mikayla Brandon (from the left) and Myia Starks get back on defense Feb. 15 during NIU’s 68-65 loss to the Western Michigan University Broncos at the Convocation Center.

Justin Kelley

DeKALB — The women’s basketball team fell short Saturday of picking up its third Mid-American Conference win. NIU fell to the Western Michigan University Broncos 68-65 after junior forward Gabby Nikitinaite missed a 3-pointer to tie the game at the buzzer.

NIU’s top performer was redshirt senior forward Courtney Woods with 18 points and seven rebounds. NIU also received contributions from senior guard Myia Starks, who scored 12 of her 16 points in the second half.

Starks did not have a great shooting performance in the first half, making only one of her four shots.

“I had to slow down a bit; I was getting those shots in the first half, I just was not finishing them because I was rushing myself,” Starks said. “Then in the second half I slowed down, and they were going in.”

Outside of Woods and Starks, NIU struggled to find consistent scoring. The next highest scorer was junior forward Riley Blackwell with nine points.

On defense, NIU had a hard time controlling the paint with WMU redshirt senior forward Breanna Mobley.

Mobley scored 18 points on nine of 10 shooting and grabbed 11 boards in her 35 minutes of play.

The Broncos also received contributions from graduate transfer guard Chelayne Bailey with 11 points and two blocks.

NIU showed off its toughness to start the game, forcing WMU to turn the ball over seven times and commit three offensive fouls. NIU took a 19-11 lead after a layup by first-year forward A’Jah Davis with under two minutes of play left in the first quarter.

NIU took a 19-15 lead into the second quarter, led by Woods with six points. WMU’s top performer was Mobley, with four points and two boards.

WMU cut the deficit 19-18 early in the second quarter after a 3-pointer by first-year forward Ashley Konkle. After a 3-pointer by Blackwell, NIU extended its lead to four. The Broncos would take the lead briefly in the second quarter 29-28 after a jumper by Mobley. NIU would retake the lead 30-29 after a layup by Woods with five seconds left in the quarter.

NIU’s top performer was Woods with six points, while WMU was led by senior guard Karmin Reed with five points.

Both teams exchanged scoring drives on the first two possessions of the third quarter. WMU took a 38-34 lead off the momentum. The Broncos extended the lead to 48-42 with a little over two minutes left in the third quarter.

It took a 53-46 lead after the third quarter, led by Bailey with seven points. NIU’s was led by Woods and Starks with six points each.

NIU came out white hot at the start of the fourth quarter and tied the game at 55, after a 9-2 scoring run.

WMU retook the lead 58-55, after a huge 3-pointer by sophomore guard Maddie Walters with a little over five minutes left in the fourth quarter.

WMU extended its lead to 66-60 on a shot from Mobly with a little over a minute left in the fourth quarter. With 38 seconds left, Blackwell cut the deficit to 66-63 on an old fashioned three-point play after a foul by Molby.

The Broncos pushed the lead back to five, 68-63, after two made free throws by junior forward Leighah-Amori Wool. Seconds later, Starks made it 68-65, and on WMU’s next possession, Wool coughed up the ball.

After the turnover, NIU took a timeout to draw up one last shot with eight seconds left in the game. In the final possession, Starks expected to be fouled while driving to the basket, but a foul was not called, forcing her to kick the ball to Nikitinaite in the corner for three.

Nikitinaite’s also looked like she was fouled on her shot, but it went uncalled and clanked off the rim. WMU went on to win 68-65, led by Mobley with 10 points and grabbed three boards. NIU’s top performer was Starks and Blackwell with six points each.

“They were trying to foul prior too, they were begging for a foul on [Starks], I think what we had drawn up gave us great opportunities to get a shot off,” Head Coach Lisa Carlsen said “ We had [Nikitinaite] in the corner, [Blackwell] in the opposite corner on the comeback and of course [Woods]. I can’t fault our execution, it’s gonna come down to a flip of a coin whether they call some of the physical pieces late in a ball game.”

 NIU’s next game is 6 p.m Wednesday against the Ball State University Cardinal in Munchie, Indiana. That game will be available for viewing on ESPN+. 

Nikitinaite’s also looked like she was fouled on her shot, but it went uncalled and clanked off the rim. WMU went on to win 68-65, led by Mobley with 10 points and grabbed three boards. NIU’s top performer was Starks and Blackwell with six points each.

“They were trying to foul prior too, they were begging for a foul on [Starks], I think what we had drawn up gave us great opportunities to get a shot off,” Head Coach Lisa Carlsen said “ We had [Nikitinaite] in the corner, [Blackwell] in the opposite corner on the comeback and of course [Woods]. I can’t fault our execution, it’s gonna come down to a flip of a coin whether they call some of the physical pieces late in a ball game.”

NIU’s next game is 6 p.m Wednesday against the Ball State University Cardinal in Munchie, Indiana. That game will be available for viewing on ESPN+.