Huskies need key players for success in MAC tournament’s first round

Women’s basketball will travel to Cleveland to face Ball State Wednesday.


Courtesy of NIU Athletics

Redshirt senior guard Janae Poisson navigates the court during Wednesday’s overtime win over the Buffalo Bulls. Poisson recorded 26 points, six rebounds and an assist during NIU’s matchup with Buffalo at the Convocation Center in DeKalb. (NIU Athletics)

By DeOndre Saunders, Sports Reporter

The NIU women’s basketball team needs a game plan heading into their first-round MAC tournament matchup against the fifth seed Ball State Cardinals Wednesday. 

The last time the Huskies played the Cardinals was a Feb. 26 match, which they won 77-72. NIU dominated the second half of that game because junior forward A’Jah Davis got touches and couldn’t be stopped in the paint. 

The Huskies need a game plan to advance to the second round.

Give Davis & Poisson the ball

Davis scored 23 points in their last matchup and went 9-for-12 from the free-throw line. The Huskies need to let Davis get inside the paint and score or let her draw fouls from inside.

Ball State does a terrible job of guarding the paint and fouls a lot. They let the Huskies score 38 points in the paint and let the Huskies shoot 20 free throws. 

Redshirt senior Janae Poisson has averaged 12.8 points in the past five games. She has been on a hot scoring streak and has been active on the defensive end. Poisson is averaging 14 points per game against the Cardinals. She needs to continue shooting the ball well from the three-point line and get points in the paint.

If Davis and Poisson become a dynamic duo in this game, the Huskies will easily advance to the second round. 

Limit the turnovers

The Huskies are averaging 15 turnovers per game and need to cut down on turnovers. In their last meet-up against Ball State, NIU had 13 turnovers. 

Turnovers can lead to fastbreak points, which will be bad for the Huskies because Ball State knows how to score in transition. The Cardinals scored 12 fastbreak points in their last matchup. 

Bench production

The bench will be needed heavily to score at least 20 or more points.

In the Huskies’ last game against Central Michigan University, the Huskies had 36 bench points. The bench being productive resulted in a 20-point victory for the Huskies. Senior guard Pauline Castro and redshirt freshman Sidney McCrea will be important factors from the bench because of their shooting. Castro and McCrea are great catch-and-shoot players and are great defenders. 

Bench contribution will be an important asset for the Huskies to win.