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Sports

Huskies slice through CMU's defense with ease

Northern  Illinois junior forward Kristin Wiener positions herself for a rebound during the Huskies’ 68-42 victory over Central Michigan on Saturday. Wiener scored a game-high 22 points on 10-of-12 shooting. Chronicle photo CURTIS CLEGG
Northern Illinois junior forward Kristin Wiener positions herself for a rebound during the Huskies’ 68-42 victory over Central Michigan on Saturday. Wiener scored a game-high 22 points on 10-of-12 shooting. Chronicle photo CURTIS CLEGG

DeKALB - Northern Illinois had little problem with the highly-ranked Central Michigan defense Saturday. The Huskies offense executed with surgical precision, becoming just the second Mid-American Conference team to score more than 60 points on the Chippewas this season, in a 68-42 triumph over Central Michigan. CMU (14-10, 5-8) entered the day ranked second among MAC defenses and 20th in the NCAA, giving up just 55.6 points per game. In fact, the stingy Chippewa defense had held 10 of 11 MAC opponents to under 60 points, with Miami (Ohio) as the only team to eclipse the 60-point plateau - a game Central Michigan won 80-67. &#8220I didn't see the same team out there on our end as far as defensive intensity,” said CMU coach Eileen Kleinfelter. &#8220I think NIU executed very well, they find the holes. They passed the ball incredibly well, but more than anything they shot extremely well. They really came out and executed and took care of business.” NIU (10-14, 6-7) shot an impressive 54 percent (27-of-50) from the floor against the Chippewas, who came in ranked second in defensive field goal percentage, allowing just 39.5 percent in MAC games. The hot percentage from the floor was attributed to getting the ball inside to the post for high-percentage shots. NIU used the high-low combination of Stephanie Raymond and Kristin Wiener to pound the ball inside. Raymond threw an entry pass over the top to Wiener on at least four different occasions to score easy two-point baskets for the Huskies. NIU outscored Central Michigan 32-12 on points in the paint. Although Raymond finished with 18 points and nine assists, Wiener was the catalyst on offense for the Huskies. Wiener dominated the second half inside for NIU. The junior used her 6-foot-3 frame to score 14 of NIU's first 16 second-half points to finish with a game-high 22 on 10-of-12 shooting. &#8220I definitely give credit to my teammates,” said Wiener. &#8220They got me the ball tonight. My job is to put it in, and they got it into me inside ... tonight it's a credit to my teammates.” CMU wasn't prepared for Wiener to have such a dominating presence inside. Last month, Wiener scored just 10 points in a 59-57 NIU win in Mt. Pleasant, Mich. With the junior stepping up, the Chippewas tried to make adjustments on the defensive end to neutralize the post presence, but any defensive tweaking was ineffective. &#8220We tried to get behind Wiener a little bit more, instead of giving her the high-low looks and then try to double-up a little bit more, but that didn't work for us,” said Kleinfelter. &#8220We tried to do away with the high-low a little bit, and tried not to get caught high-side fronting. We tried to get a little bit more of a double-up inside, but that just didn't happen the way we wanted it to.” NIU coach Carol Owens was happy with her team's ability to get the ball inside to Wiener, and their presence of mind to kick the ball out to open shooters on the perimeter. NIU shot 4-of-10 from three-point range, including two by sophomore Whitney Lowe. &#8220We knew that they had strong post play, and we really focused on that in practice,” said Owens. I thought we got the ball up the floor very well. I thought Stephanie saw the floor really well and attacked. Kristin really made a big presence on the inside. So not only were we aggressive on the outside, we were aggressive on the inside in the same game, so that was good for us.” Chris Everett can be reached at ceverett@daily-chronicle.com.

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