Miami bests women’s basketball in Wednesday shootout

Huskies suffer second-straight defeat against Mid-American Conference opponents.

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Summer Fitzgerald

Women’s basketball junior guard Chelby Koker attempts to navigate through a wave of Ball State defenders during an overtime loss to the Cardinals on Jan. 5 in DeKalb. (Summer Fitzgerald | Northern Star)

By Skyler Kisellus, Sports Reporter

DeKALB — Women’s basketball’s hopes of besting the Miami University-Ohio RedHawks were dashed as the Huskies couldn’t find the net in the final seconds of a 61-56 shootout victory for Miami Wednesday.

A defensive stand by the RedHawks with NIU in striking distance down 59-56 with 12 seconds left on the game clock proved to be the game’s deciding factor.

Junior guard Chelby Koker attempted a pass to junior forward A’Jah Davis in the paint, only to be broken up and recovered by Miami with two seconds left for NIU’s 24th and final turnover of the contest.

“We got some good looks, made the right pass,” head coach Lisa Carlsen said in a postgame interview with Huskie Sports Radio Network. “Then we either don’t catch the basketball or step out of bounds or travel. Different things like that that we just have to clean up.”

The Mid-American Conference rivals battled fiercely throughout the game, mostly so in the second half. Saturday’s matchup saw the lead switch hands 15 times, with Miami’s largest lead forming as the clock expired.

Huskies strike fast in opening half

NIU took the first attempts on the net Wednesday, missing two three-point attempts to start before Koker gave the Huskies their first two points with a pull-up score. A layup by redshirt senior guard Errin Hodges came 24 seconds afterward, forcing Miami to call timeout 1:29 into the first quarter.

The RedHawks came out of the timeout with six consecutive points to take a 6-4 lead in the second minute. Neither time registered another score until Koker took a steal to the hoop for a layup, tying the game 6-6 in the sixth minute. NIU found itself up by one at the end of the first, 12-11.

A three-pointer and two free throws by the Huskies brought their lead to 17-11 to open second quarter scoring. NIU kept its collective foot on the gas as they added to their winning margin to go up 10, 27-17, with 3:29 in the half. A late 7-2 run by Miami allowed the game to enter halftime with the Huskies up 29-25.

Koker finished the first half as NIU’s leading scorer with 12 points, hitting 5-of-8 shots from the field. The Redhawks’ top scorer entering Wednesday’s game, junior guard Peyton Scott, was held to six points in the first half.

“Obviously, (Scott)’s a huge part of our defensive scheme,” Carlsen said in a halftime interview with ESPN. “We just have to make sure she doesn’t get going in the second half.”

Miami took to scoring right out of the half with freshman guard Ivy Wolf making a shot from behind the arc 16 seconds into the third quarter. NIU’s Koker answered with a pair of free throws and a layup to take the Huskie advantage out to 33-27.

MAC rivals light up the scoreboard

A pair of exchanges of two-point scores between the Huskies and RedHawks led to a 37-31 score favoring NIU with 5:20 left in the quarter. The following trio of Miami scores put the Redhawks ahead 38-37. This was their first advantage since leading the Huskies 11-9 in the eighth minute of the first quarter.

Both sides remained with a score of each other for the remainder of the quarter. Davis’ layup just ahead of the buzzer gave the Huskies a one-point lead going into the fourth, up 43-42.

Each game is a new challenge.”

— Head coach Lisa Carlsen

Koker’s foul against Miami freshman guard Maddi Cluse during a pull-up shot allowed the RedHawks to tie things up at 45-45 after the ensuing free throw attempt by Cluse was successful.

The two squads remained neck-and-neck for the remainder of regulation. The RedHawks went ahead for the final time with 1:51 remaining thanks to a driving layup by Cluse. NIU redshirt senior guard Janae Poisson fouled Miami sophomore guard Edyn Battle in an effort to retain possession with 20 seconds left. Both of Battle’s shots from the line were successful to take the RedHawks lead to 59-56.

RedHawks bend, don’t break

A three-point attempt by Koker missed the mark but was rebounded by the Huskies. After two timeouts by NIU, Koker attempted a pass to Davis that was snatched by Miami sophomore center Jada Duckett. NIU’s Hodges fouled Miami’s Scott immediately after to have another chance to tie the game. The Huskies’ chances were soon erased once Scott sealed the RedHawks victory with two successful three throws to end the night 61-56.

Koker finished the night with NIU’s scoring title for the contest, posting 20 points and shooting 8-of-15 on field goals. Poisson was second in scoring with 11 points of her own, 9 coming from three-point land.

The defeat on the road gives NIU back-to-back losses after being routed by the University of Toledo 73-52 on Saturday. The Huskies now stand at 4-9 on the season and 1-4 against conference opponents.

“Each game is a new challenge,” Carlsen said. “Obviously, it doesn’t matter who it is. It doesn’t matter where you play. You gotta prepare and you gotta play 40 minutes of basketball.”

The Huskies continue their road stretch as they head north to Ypsilanti, Michigan, to battle with 5-7 Eastern Michigan University. The game is scheduled for 1 p.m. Monday and will be streamed on ESPN+.