Huskies fall to Cardinals in final seconds

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Zulfiqar Ahmed | Northern Star

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.

Justin Kelley, Reporter

DeKALB — The women’s basketball team fell to the Ball State University Cardinals 82-79 in dramatic fashion Wednesday. With 9.8 seconds left in the game, senior forward Oshlynn Brown gave Ball State a 81-79 lead with a layup, and was fouled by NIU junior forward Mikayla Brandon in the process.

Brown extended the Cardinals lead to 82-79 after making the free throw to complete the 3-point play. NIU had an opportunity to tie the game with its last shot, but Brandon’s 3-pointer sailed long to end the game.

The game-winning basket wasn’t Brown’s only highlight as she led the Cardinals in scoring and rebounds. In her 37-plus minutes of action, Brown recorded a double-double, scoring 26 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. 

The Cardinals also received contributions from redshirt sophomore guard Anna Clephane and sophomore guard Sydney Freeman. Freeman scored 20 points and made four 3-pointers, while Clephane scored 18 points with four rebounds. 

NIU’s top performer was sophomore guard Chelby Koker with 22 points and four rebounds. The Huskies also received contributions from redshirt junior guard Janae Poisson and redshirt junior guard Errin Hodges.

Poisson scored a season-high 20 points and made a season-high five 3-pointers, while Hodges scored 10 points with six rebounds.

Both teams battled for control early in the first quarter as the game was tied twice and had two lead changes in the first three minutes of play.  From there, both teams struggled a bit with offensive consistency and only combined for 16 points for the remainder of the quarter.

After the first quarter the game was tied at 13. NIU’s top performer for the first quarter was sophomore forward A’Jah Davis with six points and three rebounds. Ball State’s top performer for the first quarter was Brown with six points and four rebounds.

Ball State took a 17-14 lead early in the second quarter after a 4-0 scoring run finished off by a free throw from Clephane with a little over seven minutes left in the quarter. The Cardinals pushed its lead to 24-15 after a 3-pointer by Freeman with a little under six minutes of play left in the quarter.

The Huskies were able to cut the deficit down to 29-28 after a 13-4 scoring run over the next two plus minutes. NIU tied the game at 31 after a 3-pointer by Poisson with a little over three minutes left in the second quarter.

The remainder of the quarter stayed competitive, as the game was tied two more times in the final two minutes of the quarter.

The Cardinals took a 41-40 lead into halftime, led by Freeman and Clephane with seven points each. NIU’s top performer for the second quarter was Poisson with 11 points with three 3-pointers made.

NIU took an 46-43 lead early in the third quarter after a layup by Koker with a little over eight minutes left in the quarter. From there the Huskies went on a tear, outscoring Ball State 10-3 and took 56-46 with a little under six minutes left in the quarter.

The Cardinals cut the deficit to 63-59 after a 2-point jumper by junior forward Thelma Dis Agustdorrir with less than a minute left in the quarter.

NIU took a 65-59 after the third quarter led by Koker and Poisson with six points each. Ball State’s top performer for the third quarter was Clephane with six points and one offensive rebound.

Koker extended NIU’s lead to 68-61 early in the fourth quarter after making two free throws with less than eight minutes left in the quarter. Ball State started its comeback bid after out scoring NIU 8-4 and cut the deficit down to 72-69. 

Ball State went on to take a 75-73 lead after a layup by Clephane with a little under three minutes to play in the quarter. The Huskies responded quickly and retook the lead, 77-75, after a 4-0 scoring run with a little over two minutes left in the quarter.

From there Brown took over for Ball State and scored the next seven straight points and gave them a 82-79 lead with nine seconds left in the game. Ball State went on to win the game 82-79 after forcing Brandon into a tough 3-pointer.

Ball State’s top performer of the fourth quarter was Brown with 10 points and five rebounds. The Huskies’ top performer was Koker with six points and four rebounds.

NIU’s next game is 1 p.m. Saturday against the Western Michigan University Broncos in Kalamazoo, Michigan. That game will be available on ESPN+