The Northern Illinois University women’s basketball team erased a five-point deficit in the final 41 seconds of regulation to force overtime against the Bowling Green Falcons Saturday at the Stroh Center, then outscored the Falcons 12-7 to win 92-87.
Bowling Green (8-14, 1-9 MAC) used a 10-0 run late in the fourth quarter to take a 78-73 lead with 0:46 left in regulation. Courtney Woods then went to the foul line on NIU’s next possession and made two free throws to make the score 78-75 with 0:41 to play.
Woods posted game-highs in points (32) and rebounds (eight) and added four assists.
The Huskies then forced a turnover with Myia Starks going end to end for a layup that put NIU within one, 78-77, with 33 seconds left. Madisen Parker made it a three-point game with two free throws with 21 seconds left, putting the score at 80-77. The Huskies' Riley Blackwell came up with the shot that forced overtime. The junior forward made a corner three with 5.1 seconds left to level the game at 80. The Huskies then got a stop on the Falcons’ final possession to force the extra period.
“This game was going to be a battle down to the wire,” NIU coach Lisa Carlsen said. “It’s tough to win on the road. I’ve used the word resiliency a lot with this team, especially in the last few weeks. Riley’s three to put the game into overtime is a great example of that, of doing your job. For her to calmly knock that down just shows our depth and our ability to call upon different people at different times to make plays.”
NIU (7-14, 3-7 MAC) rode that momentum into overtime. The Huskies scored the first seven points of overtime on a pair of Ally May layups and a Woods three with 1:58 to go that made the score 87-80. After a Parker three got the Falcons within four, Starks scored four straight points to give NIU a 90-83 lead with 34 seconds to play. Bowling Green got as close as three late in the overtime, but were forced to foul. Chelby Koker made two foul shots with 12 seconds to go to secure the Huskies’ 92-87 win. Parker led the Falcons with 18 points.
“Once we got it to overtime, we found a way to make the plays to win the game,” Carlsen said. “We fought too hard to let it slip away. This team never panics and that’s a credit to our upperclassmen because there isn’t a lot that they haven’t seen over the years. They understand time and score and what we’re trying to accomplish.”
The Huskies got a big contribution from Ninni Salmi to start the game. Salmi had seven of NIU’s first 10 points as NIU took a 10-6 lead with 5:44 to go in the first quarter.