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Courtney Woods scores 38 points to lead NIU women past Toledo

Photo by John Gallione
NIU forward Courtney Woods celebrates a Huskies victory with two-year-old Xander Gonzales of Rochelle.
Photo by John Gallione NIU forward Courtney Woods celebrates a Huskies victory with two-year-old Xander Gonzales of Rochelle.

DeKALB – The Northern Illinois women’s basketball team notched its second straight win, topping the Toledo Rockets, 89-79, on Wednesday night.

Courtney Woods put up another stellar offensive performance, scoring 38 points on 11-for-19 shooting in the Huskies’ victory. 

“I think this year, the ball is in my hands a lot more,” Woods said. “I just have a lot more opportunities. Coach [John] McGinty does a great job creating plays that get me the ball where I like it. I love the right-hand block and the 3. Besides that, I am not doing a whole lot.”

Senior forward Kelly Smith was another example of the Huskies’ offensive efficiency. Smith chipped in 22 points on 8-for-15 shooting, while also adding eight rebounds, a block and a steal.

“I think my teammates kinda noticed that certain things were working,” Smith said. “Courtney [Woods] with her shot draws a lot of people out, and that leaves some gaps for me.”

The Huskies (15-13, 7-10 Mid-American Conference) had an offensive outburst against a team that coach Lisa Carlsen called one of the better defensive teams in the conference. Three Huskies scored at least 19 points in the game. The Huskies also outscored the Rockets in the paint, 48-30.

“I think that is always a little bit of a point of emphasis,” Carlsen said. “Toledo does a great job of guarding the arc, so you have to be able to penetrate the defense to get opportunities.”

With the Huskies still three games below .500 in the conference, it is beginning to look as though they will be a No. 8 or No. 9 seed in the MAC Tournament. The Huskies have one regular-season game remaining on their schedule, a conference matchup against Western Michigan.

“I think that we need to continue to be focused and locked in on the defensive end,” Carlsen said. “As you continue to play teams that you’ve already played at least once, nobody is going to surprise anybody. ... You can’t afford empty possessions on either end of the floor. ...It’s a focus and a mentality.”

By the numbers: The Huskies closed out the game red hot, shooting 58.3 percent from the field in the fourth quarter. 

Beyond the stats: Execution was a strong suit for the Huskies. After a Toledo turnover with one second left in the first quarter, the Huskies found Smith on a mismatch near the basket on a sideline inbounds play. Smith connected on the catch and layup at the horn.

They said it: “I’m really proud of the way we played for 40 minutes,” Carlsen said. “I think we showed a lot of toughness and resiliency.”

Up next: The Huskies will host Western Michigan at 1 p.m. Saturday.

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