Women’s basketball falls in first game of MAC tournament

The Huskies lost to Ball State Wednesday despite holding a 17 point lead at one point in the first half of the game.


Summer Fitzgerald

Junior forward A’Jah Davis shoots from the free throw line during a game on Jan. 15 against the University of Toledo Rockets. The Huskies fell 73-52 as Davis led all NIU scorers with 24 points. (Summer Fitzgerald/ Northern Star)

By Waleed Alamleh, Sports Reporter

DeKalb The women’s basketball team blew a 17-point lead against Ball State University Wednesday in Cleveland, Ohio, in the opening round of the MAC championships.

How It Happened

The Huskies got off to a very hot start, scoring 24 points in the first quarter alone. The Huskies shot an impressive 52.9% from the field, including 4-6 from the 3-point line. NIU was able to grow its lead to as large as 17 in the second quarter. Ball State picked up its defensive intensity during the second quarter by full-court pressing, causing five Huskie turnovers. The Cardinals were able to cut the Huskies’ lead to 34-24. 

The Cardinals’ press continued to give the Huskies trouble on the offensive end. NIU wasn’t able to get into any type of rhythm. The Cardinals forced six more turnovers in the third quarter, scoring six points on the extra opportunities. Ball State outscored NIU by six in the frame to cut the lead to just four points entering the fourth quarter. 

The Huskies’ players were stalled and just flat-out tired by the start of the fourth. The Cardinals started the quarter on a 5-0 run to take a 45-44 lead, their first lead since the 6:54 mark in the first quarter. The Huskies were able to take the lead back briefly after a layup by junior forward A’jah Davis. However, the lead wouldn’t last for the Huskies as Ball State closed the quarter on a 15-8 run, with Cardinals freshman guard Ally Becki sinking two free throws with 28 seconds to give them a commanding 59-54 lead. The Cardinals won the game by a final score of 60-54. 

Thoughts from Coach Carlsen

On Ball State’s second-half defense

“A lot of credit to Ball State, especially in the second half. I thought they did a great job of being disruptive,” Carlsen said in a postgame press conference with NIU athletics. “Their defensive intensity especially on the basketball all 94 feet was the difference in the game.” 

Thoughts from the players

On the Huskies’ hot start to the game

“I think we just came out with confidence knowing that this could possibly be our last game,” Janae Poisson said. “We’re just playing together, using our momentum in our favor. I think we played really good defense to help our offense.” 

On overcoming unexpected hurdles and injuries this season 

“We have the mindset of the next man up,” Davis said. “Everyone gets the same opportunity so when it’s your time to step up you have to do just that. Coach isn’t asking to be anyone to be someone who got hurt, you just have to be yourself.” 

Top performers 

A’Jah Davis

Davis recorded her 13th straight double-double and 24th for the season, putting up an impressive 17 points and 11 rebounds in the loss Wednesday. Davis only took seven shots in the game making six of them for a highly efficient 85% from the field. 

Ally Becki

Ball State’s Ally Becki had an impressive showing in her first MAC tournament game, recording 15 points and four rebounds. It was Becki’s defense that caused the most problems for NIU. She recorded four steals and one block during the game.

Janae Poisson

Poisson had a huge impact for the Huskies, playing in all 40 minutes of Wednesday’s game. She recorded 13 points and five rebounds, including three 3-pointers in the first half. 

The Huskies finished the season with an overall record of 14-15 and 11-9 in the MAC.