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Sports

Women's basketball: Northern Illinois tops Eastern Illinois

NIU guard Mikayla Voigt (21) drives to the basket against Eastern Illinois Panthers guard Grace Lennox (5) in DeKalb Dec. 17.
NIU guard Mikayla Voigt (21) drives to the basket against Eastern Illinois Panthers guard Grace Lennox (5) in DeKalb Dec. 17.

DeKALB – Despite a rocky first half, the Northern Illinois University women’s basketball team defeated Eastern Illinois University, 78-59, on Monday night.

NIU’s Mikayla Voigt kept her hot streak going. She went 4 of 5 from 3-point range, putting up 25 points and nine rebounds. Voigt said that her teammates being in sync is the key to helping her get her shot going from the outside.

“Honestly, I just try to let the game come to me,” Voigt said. “I rely on teammates like Myia [Starks] to get in the paint and find me. They make it really easy. Sometimes, all I have to do is stand there and shoot. I like to think that I get in the gym enough to be confident and knock that shot down.”

Early on, the Huskies (6-4) struggled to get their offense in a rhythm. They shot only 26.7 percent from the floor in the first quarter. In the second half, the Huskies went on a tear, shooting 60 percent from the floor in the third quarter. Huskies coach Lisa Carlsen said that the NIU’s improvement came from moving the ball around and getting comfortable in its sets.

“Obviously, I thought the second half was much better than the first,” Carlsen said. “When we are in the open court and share the basketball, that is when we get comfortable. Even though they seem like they’re the same shots, there’s just a different comfort level in transition.”

Starks had an efficient game, scoring 13 points on 5-for-8 shooting and only turning the ball over once. Starks said that the team seemed tense early, but then settled down.

“It’s a basketball game; it’s supposed to be fun,” Starks said. “Coaches put us in good positions to make plays. I did exactly what [assistant coach] John [McGinty] said, and we just got good looks. I know that once I kick it out to a shooter, they can knock it down.”

While the Huskies improved to two games over .500, they’re still trying to figure out their identity after losing Courtney Woods to a season-ending injury. The Huskies will have to rely on players such as Starks and Gabby Nikitinaite, who had 16 points, to pick up the slack. Carlsen said that while the team still is figuring out who they are, she has trust in the roster that they’ve built.

“I think that we are still working on it,” Carlsen said. “But, I can tell you that there are people who have put in the time and are ready for their moment. Nobody wants injuries to happen, and we didn’t anticipate having to play without some of the people that we don’t have in uniform right now, but the next person up mentality is definitely strong.”

The Huskies will next play Friday when they host Chicago State at 1 p.m.

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