Huskies claim Compass Challenge championship

Chelby Koker sets another career-high scoring mark


Araya Venegas

Then-freshman guard Chelby Koker brings the ball up the court in the Huskies’ Jan. 15 loss to Kent State University at the Convocation Center in 2020. (Araya Venegas/Northern Star)

By Justin Kelley

DeKALB — The women’s basketball team earned its second win of the season Saturday, sweeping the weekend at Eastern Illinois University. 

NIU defeated the Western Illinois University Leathernecks 79-67 and clinched the Compass Challenge championship.

The 3-point field goal was a huge factor for both teams, combining to shoot 42.1% from behind the 3-point arc. NIU’s top performer was sophomore Chelby Koker with a career-high 25 points and nine rebounds.

The Huskies also received contributions from redshirt junior Janae Possion and redshirt senior guard Paulina Castro. Possion scored 20 points and had two steals, while Castro scored 11 points.

Both teams had a great start in the first quarter, combining to shoot 57% from the floor on 33 attempts. WIU created some separation to take a 21-16 lead with a little over three minutes left in the first quarter.

The Leathernecks took a 27-23 lead after the first quarter led Lars with nine points and one rebound. NIU’s top performer in the first quarter was Koker with eight points, one steal and one assist.

NIU tied the game up 27-27 early in the second quarter after a lay up by Koker. The Huskies would go on to take the lead 35-32 after a 3-pointer by redshirt senior guard Paulina Castro. 

The Leathernecks retook the lead 41-40 after a 6-0 scoring run finished off by a layup from Lutz.

WIU took a 41-40 lead into halftime led by Zars with six points and four rebounds. NIU’s top performers in the second quarter were Possion and Koker with six points each.

The Leathernecks extended their lead to 47-40 in the third after going 3-3 to start the quarter. The Huskies tied the game 47-47 after Possion completed a three-point play at the free throw line.

NIU re-took the lead 49-47 on a 3-pointer from Possion with a little over three minutes left in the third quarter.

The Huskies took a 56-52 lead after the third quarter, led by Possion with nine points. WIU’s top performer in the third quarter was Nichols with six points.

NIU extended their lead to double-digits at 69-59 in the fourth quarter after a 3-pointer by Koker. The Huskies shot the ball well in the quarter, posting a 42.9% shooting percentage from the floor.

WIU did not fare as well in the fourth quarter, only posting a 38.9% shooting percentage from the floor. The deficit was too much for the Leathernecks to overcome and the Huskies went on to win 79-67.

NIU’s next game will be 6 p.m Thursday against the University of Toledo Rockets in DeKalb, at the NIU Convocation Center.