Wildcats claw Huskies, 95-75

By Todd McMahon

When you can’t convert on your own end, your opponent will usually come back and make matters worse.

Northwestern did just that Tuesday night and rolled to a 95-75 victory over the NIU women’s basketball team at Chick Evans Field House.

A crowd of 1,785 saw the Wildcats (13-9) make NIU (14-12) pay virtually every trip down the court, especially in the first half as Northwestern forced NIU into countless errors with its zone press on defense.

Consequently, Northwestern shot .515 (35-of-68) from the floor, many on transition baskets off the pressure defense. NIU, on the other hand, was a mere .349 (30-of-86) from the field.

The Wildcats were led by the trio of Michele Savage and freshmen Kellie Cook and Maureen Holohan. Savage poured in a game-high 29 points (12-of-18 shooting) and grabbed nine rebounds.

Cook (four three-pointers) and Holohan (9-of-13 shooting) each added 21 points.

Cindy Conner paced NIU with 17 points—her 26th-straight game in double figures. Angela Lockett scored 15 and pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds.

“Our inability, in the first half, to break the press really rattled us,” NIU head coach Jane Albright-Dieterle said. “We really rushed everything. We didn’t see the openings.

“They were a better team than we were tonight. I’m very disappointed we couldn’t have given them a better game and come up with a win.”

The Huskies lost the game in the first half as Northwestern shrugged off a slow start and built its lead to as many as 25 points. The Wildcats forced 15 NIU turnovers in the opening 20 minutes and led 50-29 at the break.

“They’re a very good shooting team,” Albright-Dieterle said. “We knew they could shoot, but we didn’t defend the outside shot.”

“We really didn’t know what NIU team was going to show up tonight,” Northwestern head coach Don Perrelli said. “We were ready for the team that played Stephen F. Austin and Michigan State.

“(But) we also looked at the team that played Akron and lost some games they shouldn’t have lost.”

A clue as to which NIU team will show up for the North Star Conference Tournament next week could be provided tomorrow when the Huskies close out the regular season with a 7 p.m. match-up with Wisconsin-Green Bay at the fieldhouse.