Big Third Quarter Powers NIU past Southern Indiana 61-53

DeKALB, IL – The Northern Illinois University women’s basketball team rode 21-6 in the third quarter Tuesday morning in a 61-53 win over the Southern Indiana Screaming Eagles at the NIU Convocation Center.

“Sometimes you have to find a way to win, even if it’s ugly,” said the head coach Lisa Karlsen after Tuesday’s win. “I think there are lessons to be learned today. We knew Southern Indiana was going to come in and be really aggressive and not hit themselves and they were as advertised. There were times when we were really good defensively, and when things aren’t flowing offensively, you have to latch in defensively and get stops.

The win marks the NIU’s seventh straight win at the Convocation Center. senior forward A’Jah Davis (DeKalb, Ill./Montverde Academy [Fla.]) and Senior Guard Chelby Koker (Racine, Wisconsin/Shoreland Lutheran) led the Huskies by a solid 15 points each. Davis had nine game-high rebounds, one just short of a double-double, while Koker added five game-high assists. Emma Carter (Bristol, Vt./Franklin Pierce) had a season-high 10 points.

NIU (2-1) led 27-25 at halftime but got off to a quick start in the third. Triggered by consecutive threes from Carter and another threes from Janae Poisson (Matteson, Illinois/Marian Catholic) the Huskies opened the quarter with a 13-2 run over the first 4:41. Carter had eight points on the run as two Davis free throws gave NIU a 40-27, 4:22 lead.

“A’Jah, Chelby and Jayden [Marable] are phenomenal creators and I wouldn’t have gotten those looks if they hadn’t done what they do best,” said Carter, who scored eight of her 10 points in the third quarter.

After a layup by Meredith Raley made it 40-29, Poisson and Koker combined for the next seven NIU points to give the Huskies their biggest lead of the game, 47-29, at the 2:16 mark. For the fourth, NIU beat the Screaming Eagles 21-6 and held off the visitors 3-to-13 to go 48-31 into the fourth.

“The third quarter was obviously crucial for us,” said Carlsen. “We came out with a much better defense intensity and we were able to bounce the basketball much better.”

Southern Indiana rallied in the final quarter, starting on a 12-0 run topped by a three-pointer from Ashlynn Brown that cut the deficit to five, 48-43, 6-54. Koker responded with two straight threes for the Huskies to bring the lead back to 11, 54-43 with less than six minutes to go. The Screaming Eagles came within five points the rest of the way as NIU held on to their second straight win, 61-53.

The Huskies opened the game with a 7-2 run, topped by a Jayden Marable (Bolingbrook, Illinois/Bolingbrook) hung up at the 8:05 mark. Southern Indiana tied the game at nine with a Raley three, but NIU took the lead with an 8-2 run to end the quarter with a koker layup that leveled the score at 17-11. NIU led by seven early in the second before a 7-0 run in Southern Indiana tied the game at 5:07 at 6 p.m. to play through to halftime. The two teams traded baskets until the last minute, when Davis and Laura Nickle (Marshall, Wisconsin/Marshall) gave NIU a 27-23 lead. Vanessa Shafford then hit the buzzer with a float in the lane to take the score of 27-25 in the dressing room.

NIU shot 41.7 percent from field for the game and held Southern Indiana at 35.7 percent. The Huskies were 14-to-18 from the free throw line and holding a 37-29 edge on the glass. Raley led the Screaming Eagles with 15 points while Brown added 10.

The Huskies complete their current homestand Thursday, November 17 at 6 p.m. against western Illinois. Register for tickets at NIU or call the NIU Athletics Ticket Office at 815-753-PACK (7225).