Hot second half propels UW-GB

By Todd McMahon

It was the last game of the regular season for the NIU women’s basketball team, but the second-half blues still continued.

The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay outscored the Huskies 51-32 in the final 20 minutes to pull out a 75-66 victory Thursday night at Chick Evans Field House.

With the win, the Phoenix finished the regular season at 21-5 and a perfect North Star Conference mark of 12-0. Meanwhile, NIU dropped to 14-13 overall and 8-4 in the conference heading into the league tournament next Thursday.

UW-GB erased a 10-point halftime deficit with a 27-8 run in a span of seven minutes halfway through the second half.

With NIU ahead 43-37 at the 11:03 mark, the Phoenix scored the next 11 points in just over two minutes to go up five. UW-GB never looked back as it increased its lead to 64-51 with 4:07 remaining.

The Huskies made things interesting at the end, getting as close as four (69-65) with 0:46.1 left. But after a Phoenix turnover, Cindy Conner missed a three-pointer from the top of the key with 38 seconds remaining.

Kim Wood (14 points) and senior Sandra Baerwald (16 points) sank two free throws apiece to close out the scoring.

UW-GB was led by senior center Lisa Wegner (game-high 21 points) who was 9-of-10 from the field and grabbed 11 rebounds.

NIU, only 11-of-36 (.306) from the field in the second half, was paced again by Conner, who reached double figures for the 27th straight game with 19 points. E.C. Hill added 15 points and freshman Leslie Pottinger poured in a career-high 13 points.

“We played a really nice first half, with 11 steals and forcing them to shoot 41 percent,” NIU head coach Jane Albright-Dieterle said. “In the second half, I don’t think, defensively, we played with the same intensity.

“We probably played 34 minutes of really tough basketball. Those six minutes that we didn’t play was the difference. We knew we had to play 40 to win.”

NIU starts a “new” season next week in the NSC Tournament. The Huskies, with the second seed, will face last-place University of Illinois-Chicago in the first round at the fieldhouse Thursday at 7:30 p.m.