DeKALB – There were times throughout Wednesday night’s game against Kent State where the Northern Illinois bench chanted “D-up! D-up! D-up!”
Then the chant would switch to “Defense! Defense!, Defense!”
The NIU players on the floor seemed to have that in mind anyway, as the Huskies defeated the Golden Flashes, 65-43, and improved to 8-10 overall and 4-4 in Mid-American Conference play.
The 43 points Kent State finished with is the lowest output of the season for a Huskies opponent. The Golden Flashes came into the contest averaging just 52.1 points a game, the worst total in the MAC, but NIU still held Kent State to about nine points below its season average.
“I just thought our ball screen D was great. I thought Jenna [Thorp] in the first half, she stopped their posts from scoring,” NIU coach Kathi Bennett said. “Second half they got rolling a little bit, but Jenna really did a great job bringing the double, knowing when to double. Just made a huge difference on the defensive end.”
On the offensive end, the Huskies found open open shooters all night off dribble penetration into the lane against Kent State (3-16, 0-8 MAC), and had success with their jump shots.
NIU finished the night shooting 48 percent from the field, taking advantage of the quickness guards like Danny Pulliam and Amanda Corral possess.
“Tonight I just tried to penetrate the gaps and then kick to the shooters. Just looked to get them open a lot,” said Pulliam, the Huskies’ junior point guard. “A lot of stuff to get [Amanda Corral] some shots, get her legs under and start hitting, knocking down shots.”
Six Huskies finished with at least nine points. Corral led NIU with 13, Ashley Sneed finished with 12 while Jenna Thorp and Natecia Augusta each had 10. Pulliam and Ally Lehman finished with nine points apiece.
Corral had 11 of her 13 points in the second half.
“The second half I just tried to work on my mid-range game more,” said Corral, the Huskies’ leading scorer on the season. “.. I kind of was denied in the first half a little bit. That was fine with me because my teammates were getting open shots. I just took the open shot when I got it.”
The win gets the Huskies back on the right track in league play. NIU had lost three of its last four heading into Wednesday. The Huskies will play at Western Michigan on Saturday. Tip-off is 3:30 p.m.