Women’s basketball drops season opener against IUPUI

Chelby Koker scores career-high 21 points

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Patrick Murphy

Sophomore guard Chelby Koker (left) drives past two defenders Nov. 25, during NIU’s 85-61 loss to IUPUI at the NIU Convocation Center in DeKalb, Illinois. Koker scored a career-high 21 points in NIU’s season opener.

Justin Kelley

DeKALB — The women’s basketball team dropped its home opener against the Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis Jaguars 85-61 today. The Huskies were originally slated to play the Illinois State University Redbirds, but the game was cancelled due to reasons caused by COVID-19. 

NIU’s offense struggled against IUPUI’s pressure defense which led to 18 turnovers for NIU. IUPUI took full advantage of those turnovers, scoring 28 points off NIU’s mistakes. 

The Huskies did not fare too well on defense either, The Huskies allowed the Jaguars to make 49.3% of their shots from the field. NIU did not have similar success shooting the ball and only made 35.6% of their shots. 

“A really big part of it is, they really hang their hat on the defensive end and I thought made things very difficult for us,” Head Coach Lisa Carlsen said. “ We obviously didn’t get any really good flow offensively, which means we did not have great spacing and did not get the shots that we were used to getting in practice, because of their defensive pressure.”

The Jaguars were led by senior center Macee Willams with 22 points and controlled the boards grabbing 10 rebounds in 24 minutes of play.

IUPUI also received contributions from redshirt junior guard Destiny Perkins who scored 14 points and dished out five assists.

NIU’s top contributor was sophomore guard Chelby Koker finishing with a career-high 21 points.

The Huskies received meaningful minutes off the bench from redshirt junior guard Errin Hodges and redshirt junior guard Janae Possion. Hodges scored 10 points in 19 minutes of play, while Possion scored 8 points in 15 minutes of play.

Both Hodges and Possion are entering this season coming off season-ending knee injuries suffered last season.

“Being healthy and feeling the best way I have felt within the last three years contributed to how I looked on the court tonight,” Possion said.

The Jaguars got off to a great start in the first quarter, jumping out to a 13-0 lead through the first four minutes of play. IUPUI’s defense stifled NIU’s offense, forcing them into six turnovers, which the Jaguars turned into five points.

NIU cut the IUPUI lead to three, 15-12 with a little over two minutes left in the first quarter after a 12-3 scoring run.

IUPUI took a 21-14 lead after the first quarter led Perkins with five points and three assists. NIU’s top contributors were Koker and senior forward Mikalya Brandon with four points. 

The Jaguars increased their lead back to double-digits, 27-17 in the second quarter after a layup by first-year guard Anna Mortag. IUPUI did not stop there as they went on to outscore the Huskies 29-15 for the remainder second of the quarter. IUPUI continued to shoot the ball well throughout the second quarter, making 57.9% of their shots.

Sophomore guard Grace Hunter (right) runs the offense Nov. 25, during NIU’s 85-61 loss to IUPUI in DeKalb, Illinois. Hunter had three points and two assists in the season opener. (Patrick Murphy | Northern Star)

NIU did not fare as well offensively in the second quarter as they only made 37.5% of their shots from the floor.

The Jaguars took a 50-29 lead into halftime, led by Williams with 11 points and one offensive rebound. NIU’s top contributor was Hodges with three points.

The Jaguars extended their lead to 55-29 early in the third quarter after a field goal in the paint by Wiliams. NIU cut the IUPUI lead down to 16 after a layup from Possion with a little over four minutes left in the third quarter. The Jaguars led 58-42.. 

Late in the third quarter, IUPUI pushed its lead back to 20, 67-42 after a field goal by Mortag. 

The Jaguars took an 67-42 lead after the third quarter led by Williams with seven points and three rebounds. NIU’s top contributor Koker with 11 points and two rebounds.

The Huskies shooting struggles continued in the fourth quarter as they posted their worst shooting percentage of 31.3% from the floor. IUPUI would go on to defeat NIU 85-61, led by Perkins with nine points and two rebounds. 

NIU’s top performer in the fourth quarter was Hodges with five points, knocking down both of her shot attempts.

NIU’s next game will be 6 p.m Dec. 6 against the Eastern University Panthers in Charleston, IL.