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Sports

NIU rebounds from tough loss

Northern Illinois junior Mary Basic (23) drives back to the wing to set up the offense following an offensive rebound during the Huskies’ 68-42 victory over Central Michigan on Saturday. NIU snapped a three-game losing skid, and a fourth-place tie with CMU in the MAC West. Chronicle photo CURTIS CLEGG
Northern Illinois junior Mary Basic (23) drives back to the wing to set up the offense following an offensive rebound during the Huskies’ 68-42 victory over Central Michigan on Saturday. NIU snapped a three-game losing skid, and a fourth-place tie with CMU in the MAC West. Chronicle photo CURTIS CLEGG

DeKALB - The Northern Illinois women's basketball team bounced back strong. After an embarrassing 26-point home loss to Eastern Michigan on Wednesday night, the Huskies turned in a convincing 68-42 drubbing of Central Michigan on Saturday afternoon at the Convocation Center. Forward Kristin Wiener poured in a game-high 22 points and point guard Stephanie Raymond dropped in 18 points and dished out nine assists to help the Huskies snap a three-game losing streak The victory moves NIU (10-14, 6-7 Mid-American Conference) into sole possession of fourth place in the MAC West while keeping CMU in the fifth spot. &#8220I think we finally got over the virus we've had the past week or so,” first-year NIU coach Carol Owens said about the skid. &#8220It was definitely good to get a win at home in front of our crowd. After our Eastern (Michigan) game, we did a lot of soul searching, and coming to grips with what we do well individually and as a team, and I think our team did a great job of soul searching. I'm really happy and pleased with our play throughout the game.” Against MAC West-leading EMU on Wednesday night, NIU trailed 20-0 before recording its first points eight minutes into the game. The Huskies had more turnovers (16) than points (10) at halftime of the 63-37 loss. It appeared NIU was heading down the same path on Saturday, missing their first six shots in a 4:12 field-goal drought to open the game. However, the Huskies' defense kept them in the game by holding the Chippewas (14-10, 5-8) without a basket for the first 5:27. The Huskies held CMU to 15 points in the first half and forced 23 turnovers. &#8220I don't think we were worried,” Wiener said about the slow start. &#8220With our defense we held them to one point, it was 1-0 for a long time. We finally got something to fall. We knew if we kept our defense up that something had to fall sooner or later.” Raymond put NIU on the board with a reverse layup at the 15:48 mark and added a three-pointer as the shot clock wound down on the next possession. The Huskies led the rest of the game, at one point extending the margin to 28 points. Raymond, the MAC's fifth-leading scorer, exploded for 10 points in a four-minute span to give the Huskies a 14-3 advantage. &#8220I've learned from recent games not to try too hard,” Raymond said. &#8220When I try to do too much, I end up turning the ball over a lot more than I want to. I just really wanted the game to come to me tonight. A couple of practices that we've had, we've had a lot of fun. A lot of talk, and we scrimmaged and had a lot of fun with each other, and we wanted to carry that over to tonight.” Then CMU coach Eileen Kleinfelter made some defensive adjustments on Raymond, which proved effective. The NIU junior was held without a basket from the 11:35 mark of the first half until 5:52 remained in the game. Not a problem for the Huskies. Raymond simply fed the ball to Wiener in the post. Wiener exploded for 14 second-half points. &#8220That is the sign of a great player,” said Kleinfelter, whose team had a five-game winning streak snapped. &#8220If someone stops you from scoring, you're going to find other ways to help you're team. She found a way to do that with the penetrating and assists.” Once Wiener had the ball, she had little trouble putting it in the basket. The junior used an array of post moves to torch the Chippewas with a 10-of-12 shooting effort. Wiener fell two points shy of her career high of 24 which she has recorded twice this season. &#8220I definitely give credit to my teammates,” Wiener said. &#8220They got me the ball tonight, and my job is to put it in.” The Huskies also received a scoring boost from reserve Whitney Lowe. The 6-foot guard/forward contributed eight points on 3-of-7 shooting, including 2-of-6 from three-point range. The sophomore also tied for team-high honors by pulling down five rebounds. &#8220Whitney Lowe has done a great job coming off the bench for us offensively,” Owens said. &#8220She can shoot the three, but also she's a 6-foot guard that can post-up some smaller guards too, so we try to look at that from time to time. She's just been really strong for us, also rebounding, she helps us on the rebounding end. So, I'm happy that we have a player like her to come off the bench.” Kevin Chlum can be reached at kchlum@daily-chronicle.com.

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