DEKALB – Courtney Woods tied a career best with 39 points – or a “quiet 39” as she said after the game – as the Northern Illinois women’s basketball team came from behind Wednesday to beat Kent State, 81-79, in a Mid-American Conference game.
The game went back and forth with nine lead changes and five ties. Early in the fourth quarter, the Golden Flashes led by eight points. From that point on, the Huskies (9-4, 1-1 MAC West) outscored the Flashes, including an 8-0 run that lasted for almost two minutes starting at the 3:52 mark.
“I never had a doubt that these guys understand not giving up until the final buzzer,” Huskies coach Lisa Carlsen said. “There were times where it wasn’t pretty, but I think that there were spurts in the second half where people really stepped up.”
With the outcome up in the air, the Golden Flashes (8-6, 1-1 MAC East) had the ball under their own basket on an inbound play with 4.3 seconds left in the game. After NIU already forced the Flashes to take their final timeout, Mikayla Voigt jumped into the passing lane of Ali Poole, stealing the ball and sealing the game for the Huskies.
“We had a little huddle [during the timeout],” Voigt said. “Coach [Adam] Tandez and Coach Maria [Kasza] do a really good job of helping us on defense. They said, ‘We’re gonna stay with the ball and stay with your person.’ [Poole] passed it right to me.”
Woods dominated the game from an offensive standpoint, shooting 7 of 10 from beyond the 3-point arc. Woods also went 10 for 12 at the free-throw line.
“Coming out of the Miami game (a 67-65 loss at the buzzer for the Huskies) I think that we, especially me and Mikayla [Voigt], struggled with getting the ball to our guards and getting the ball where we wanted it,” Woods said. “This week, we focused on that. I definitely realized that when I get the ball, I am going to have to shoot it a lot quicker and create more. It’s weird to say, but I kind of felt like this was a quiet 39. I don’t think I did anything super out of the ordinary.”
Despite fouling out with less than a minute left in the fourth quarter, sophomore guard Myia Starks also made a big contribution to the Huskies’ victory. The Neuqua Valley product had 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting.
“I started getting steals,” Starks said. “I was doing what I do best – running, shooting my pull-up and getting to the rim.”
By the numbers: The Huskies were dominated in the paint in the first half, getting outscored 20-7. NIU outscored Kent State in the paint, 21-11, the rest of the way.
Beyond the stats: The momentum shift almost was tangible after Woods picked up an offensive loose ball rebound, pulled up and nailed a 25-footer. That is what sparked an 8-0 Huskies run late in the fourth quarter.
They said it: “If you wanna make any noise, you have to take care of things at home.” Carlsen said.
Up next: The Huskies host Buffalo at 1 p.m. Saturday. The Golden Flashes also will be at home Saturday as they host Western Michigan at 3:30 p.m.