Women's basketball falls in first round of MAC Championships to EMU

Senior guard Myia Starks waits for play to resume March 6 during NIU's game against Ball State University at the Convocation Center.

DeKALB —  Women’s basketball fell short of an upset in the first round of the Mid-American Conference tournament after losing to the Eastern Michigan University Eagles Monday 76-69.

The Huskies, who were ranked tenth, traveled to Ypsilanti, Michigan to face off against the seventh ranked Eagles. Redshirt senior guard Courtney Woods led the Huskies in scoring with 18 points for her final collegiate game. Senior guard Myia Starks finished with 14 points in her final performance as a Huskie, tying first-year forward A’Jah Davis.

"We're obviously going to miss [Woods],” Head coach Lisa Carlsen said in a NIU Athletics news release.”Her ability to score the basketball for the last five years is something that I don't know if we'll see a Huskie do anytime soon. She's going to be a tough one to replace, as well as all our seniors. Hopefully our young kids got a taste of what tournament play is all about.”

NIU had the upper hand for most of the game. The Huskies saw their lead grow as large as 12 points in the second quarter. 

The Huskies got off to a fast start in the first quarter, scoring the first three buckets to give them a 6-0 lead. Davis scored nine points in the quarter to help keep the Huskies on top. Her lay-up at the end of the quarter capped a 7-0 scoring run to give the Huskies a 22-15 lead. 

The Eagles slowly started a comeback in the second quarter. Junior Courtnie Lewis scored eight points in the quarter to give her team a fighting chance. Lewis had 14 points at the half, and she finished with 21 for the game. After a 9-2 scoring run, Eastern Michigan was only down 4 at the half.

In the third, the Eagles didn’t let up on defense and continued to attack the Huskies on offense. With three minutes left, Lewis hit a 3-pointer to give EMU a 50-48 lead. The Eagle ended the quarter on a 6-0 scoring run to go up four points.

The Huskies never found their stroke from long range, missing all their 3-pointers in the second half. The team finished shooting 11.8% from the 3-point line. Starks led the charge for the Huskies with seven points in the quarter.

“When the momentum shifted in their favor, I thought we got a little tight on the offensive end and maybe didn't get the good shots we were looking for," Carlsen said in a NIU Athletics news release.

Redshirt junior Areanna Combs scored 14 points in the fourth, keeping the lead for the Eagles. Combs finished with 23 points. Her efforts secured the win and a trip to Cleveland, Ohio for her team to face the Ball State University Cardinals. 

NIU’s elimination from the MAC Tournament ends their season with an 11-19 record.

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