Golden Flashes sweep Huskies in pair of weekend games

NIU+sophomore+guards+Grace+Hunter+%28left%29%2C+Chelby+Koker+%28center%29+and+senior+forward+Riley+Blackwell+%28right%29+wait+for+play+to+resume+Feb.+20%2C+during+NIU%27s+69-65+loss+to+Kent+State+University+at+the+NIU+Convocation+Center+in+DeKalb.

Zulfiqar Ahmed | Northern Star

NIU sophomore guards Grace Hunter (left), Chelby Koker (center) and senior forward Riley Blackwell (right) wait for play to resume Feb. 20, during NIU’s 69-65 loss to Kent State University at the NIU Convocation Center in DeKalb.

Justin Kelley, Reporter

DeKALB — The women’s basketball team was swept by the Kent State University Golden Flashes over the weekend. With the losses Saturday and Sunday, NIU has an upward battle to earn the top seed in the Mid-American Conference Tournament.

 

Saturday

Coming into this game, it was expected both teams would have success from 3-point territory, but it did not play out that way. Through the first three quarters, both teams combined to make only 13 of their 50 attempts.

Kent State did shoot better from 3-point territory in the fourth quarter as they made five of its 12 attempts. NIU did not have similar success in the fourth quarter, not making a 3-pointer in the quarter.

NIU leads the MAC in 3-point percentage posting an average of 39.4%. Kent State is second in the MAC with a 3-point field goal average of 36.5%.

NIU also suffered a setback as redshirt junior guard Errin Hodges left the game late in the third quarter with an apparent leg injury. At this time there is no information available on the severity of the injury.

NIU’s top performer was sophomore forward A’Jah Davis with 19 points, seven rebounds and three steals. NIU also received contributions from sophomore guard Chelby Koker and redshirt junior guard Janae Poisson.

Koker scored 16 points and grabbed nine rebounds, while Poisson had 10 points with two rebounds.

Sophomore forward Nila Blackford was Kent State’s leading scorer with 19 points and nine rebounds, with seven of them being offensive rebounds. The Golden Flashes also received contributions from junior forward Lindsey Thall and sophomore guard Katie Shumate.

Thall scored 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds, while Shumate had 10 points with four rebounds.

Junior forward Mikayla Brandon (second from right) attempts a layup Feb. 20, during NIU’s 69-65 loss to Kent State University at the NIU Convocation Center in DeKalb. (Zulfiqar Ahmed | Northern Star)

The Golden Flashes got off to a great start early in the first quarter, out-scoring NIU 6-1 through the first three minutes of the quarter. The Kent State lead did not last as NIU tied the game at six after a 3-pointer by redshirt senior Paulina Castro.

Kent State retook control of the game and extended its lead to 13-7 after a field goal by Thall with a little over three minutes left in the quarter.

NIU was able to cut the deficit to 15-13 after a 6-2 scoring run, finished off by a free throw by Davis with a little over a minute left in the quarter.

The Golden Flashes took a 15-13 lead into the second quarter led by Blackford with six points and one block. NIU’s top performer for the first quarter was Castro with five points and one rebound.

Both teams battled for control early in the second quarter as the lead changed and was tied once through the first two minutes. NIU took a 24-21 lead after a field goal by Davis with a little under six minutes left in the quarter.

Kent State was able to retake the lead 26-24, after a 6-0 scoring run finished off by a free throw by Blackford with little under three minutes left in the quarter. A 3-pointer by junior guard Hannah Young extended the Golden Flashes’ lead to 31-24 with under a minute left to play.

The Golden Flashes had a 31-28 lead after the second quarter led by Blackford with six points and two rebounds. NIU’s top performer was Poisson with six points and one rebound. 

NIU retook the lead early in the third quarter 32-31 after a layup by Davis with a little over nine minutes left in the quarter. The Huskies extended its lead to 40-34 after a 8-3 scoring finished off by a layup by redshirt junior guard Errin Hodges.

A 3-pointer by Kent State sophomore guard Clare Kelly cut the deficit to 40-37 with a little over five minutes left in the quarter. NIU again took control of the game and extended its lead to 46-39 after a jump shot from Koker.

Kent State would not go quietly though, as it cut the deficit to 47-44 after a 4-0 scoring run finished off by a free throw by Shumate.

NIU had a 49-44 lead after the third quarter led by Davis with 12 points and three rebounds. Kent State’s top performer in the third quarter was Thall with four points and three rebounds.

The Golden Flashes were able to tie the game at 53 early in the fourth quarter after a 3-pointer by junior guard Mariah Modkins. From there the remainder of the fourth quarter was highly-contested with the game being either tied or a two point game.

NIU retook control of the game and extended its lead to 63-59 after a layup by junior forward Mikayla Brandon with a little under four minutes left in the fourth quarter. 

The momentum swung back to Kent State’s side and took a 66-63 lead after a 3-pointer by Thall and  with a little over two minutes left in the fourth quarter. The Golden Flashes’ strong presence continued for the remainder of the fourth quarter and secured the win 69-65.

The Golden Flashes’ top performer in the fourth quarter was Modkins with eight points and two assists. NIU’s top performer was Koker with seven points and two rebounds.

 

Sunday

Coming into this game NIU was in second place in the MAC; only two games back of the Bowling Green University Falcons for first place. Now it is two and half games back of first after the back-to-back losses to Kent State.

NIU struggled with being consistent on offense throughout the game and also had problems controlling the boards against Kent State. The Huskies were only able to make 38% of their shots.  

In the third quarter, NIU only made two of its 12 shots from the field and only scored eight points. 

When it came to controlling the boards, Kent State out-rebounded NIU 42 to 23, grabbing 14 offensive rebounds.

Kent State’s top performer was sophomore guard Clare Kelly with 19 points and five 3-pointers. The Golden Flashes also received contributions from junior forward Lindsey Thall and sophomore forward Nila Blackford.

Thall scored 14 points and knocked down four 3-pointers, while Blackford recorded a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

NIU’s top performer sophomore guard Chelby Koker with 15 points and nine rebounds. The Huskies also received contributions from senior redshirt Paulina Castro and sophomore forward A’Jah Davis.

Castro scored 13 points and made three 3-pointers, while Davis scored 12 points with four rebounds.

Kent State jumped out to a 8-0 lead early in the first quarter after a 3-pointer by junior guard Moriah Modkins. A layup by Blackford extended Kent State’s lead to 16-7 with a little over three minutes left in the first quarter.

From there the game started to get out of hand as Kent State pushed its lead to 30-17 after a 3-pointer by Thall. Kent State was virtually unstoppable from 3-point territory in the first quarter as they made nine of their 10 attempts.

The Golden Flashes had a 33-17 lead after the first quarter, led by Kelly with 11 points and one steal. NIU’s top performer for the first quarter was Castro with six points and was a perfect two for two from 3-point territory.

Kent State extended its lead to 38-20, early in the second quarter after a 3-pointer by Kelly with a little over eight minutes left in the quarter. NIU cut the deficit to 41-26 after a 6-3 scoring run finished off with a layup by Davis with a little over two minutes left. 

The Golden Flashes had a 45-30 lead with contributions from Kelly with 5 points and one assist. NIU’s top performer in the second quarter was Castro with seven points.

Neither team shot the ball well in the third quarter and both teams only combined for 22 points in the quarter. Though, both teams did combine to go a perfect eight for eight from the free throw line, with each making four.

Kent State had a 59-38 lead after the third quarter led by Thall with five points and two rebounds. NIU’s top performer was Koker with six points and two rebounds.

The Golden Flashes extended their lead to 63-41 early in the fourth quarter after a layup by sophomore guard Katie Shumate. NIU cut the deficit 65-49 after a 8-2 scoring run finished off with a layup by Koker with a little under five minutes of play.

However, NIU’s scoring surge was not enough and Kent State went on to win 73-58.

Kent State’s top performer in the fourth quarter was Blackford with six points and one offensive rebound. NIU’s top performer was redshirt junior guard Janae Poisson with six points and two steals.

NIU’s next game is 6 p.m Wednesday against the Ball State University Cardinals at the NIU Convocation Center. The game will be available on ESPN+.