Women’s basketball continues impressive play in win over Akron

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Patrick Murphy | Northern Star

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.

Justin Kelley, Reporter

DeKALB — The women’s basketball team defeated the University of Akron Zips Wednesday 76-63. It’s the team’s fifth win in its last six games. 

Ball control was a huge factor throughout this game for both teams as they combined for 31 turnovers. NIU was responsible for 22 of those turnovers, with 14 of them coming in the first half of the game.

Outside the turnovers, the Huskies shot the ball well, shooting 44.4% from the field. The Zips did not do as well, as they shot 32.4% from the field.

NIU’s top performer was sophomore guard Chelby Koker with 19 points and four rebounds. The Huskies also received contributions from redshirt junior guard Errin Hodges and sophomore forward A’Jah Davis.

Davis recorded a double-double, scoring 13 points and 14 rebounds, while Hodges scored nine points with 10 rebounds.

Akron’s top performer was sophomore guard Rachel Martindale, scoring a career-high 20 points. The Zips also received contributions from junior guard Gabrielle Brown-Mitchell and junior guard Kendall Miller.

Brown-Mitchell scored 12 points and grabbed three rebounds while Miller scored 11 points.

Both teams struggled to get anything going early in the first quarter as both teams combined to shoot 21.4% from the floor. The Zips took a 9-4 lead after a 3-pointer from Martindale with a little over five minutes left in the first quarter. 

Akron extended its lead to 15-9 after a layup by Miller with a little over a minute left to play in the first quarter. The Huskies were able to tie the game at 15-15 after a 6-0 scoring run finished off by a 3-pointer by redshirt junior guard Janae Poisson. 

The game remained tied 15-15 after the first quarter with NIU’s top performer being Poisson with six points. The Zips’ top performer was Brown-Mitchell, also with six points.

Both teams battled for the lead early in the second quarter as there were three lead changes in the first three minutes of the quarter. The Huskies took a 24-23 lead after a jumper from Koker with a little over five minutes left in the quarter.

NIU was able to create some separation and extended their lead to 29-23 after a layup by sophomore guard Grace Hunter. However, the Zips did not back down and retook the lead 30-29 after a jumper from senior forward Jordyn Dawson with a little under three minutes left in the quarter.

The Huskies took back the lead at 31-30 after a layup by Davis with a little under a minute left to go in the second quarter. NIU posted their best shooting performance of the game in the second quarter making 53.8% of their attempts.

NIU had a 31-30 lead after the second quarter, led by Davis with five points and two rebounds. Akron’s top performer was Dawson with four points and one rebound.

NIU extended its lead to 38-32 early in the third quarter after a 7-2 scoring run through the first two and half minutes of play. A Koker layup gave the Huskies some cushion and pushed their lead to eight at 47-39 with a little over four minutes left to go in the third quarter.

The Huskies had control for the remainder of the third quarter and took a 57-47 lead heading into the fourth quarter. 

Koker was NIU’s top performer in the third quarter scoring 12 points and grabbing two rebounds. The Zips’ top performer was Martindale with eight points and one steal.

The Huskies’ momentum carried over to the fourth quarter as they outscored the Zips 10-6 through the first four minutes. A Hodges layup pushed NIU’s lead to 72-57 and sealed the victory with a little over three minutes left in the fourth quarter. 

NIU went on to win the game 76-63. With the win, its record moves to 7-6 on the season and 5-3 in the Mid-American Conference play.

NIU’s top performer in the fourth quarter was Koker with five points, while Akron was led by Martindale with six points.

The Huskies’ next game is 1 p.m Saturday against the University of Miami–Ohio RedHawks at the NIU Convocation Center in DeKalb. The game will be available on ESPN+.