Second-Half Surge Not Enough in 57-52 Loss to NIU
Dec. 5, 2013
NORMAL, Ill. - An offensively challenged first half proved too much for the Illinois State women's basketball team to overcome, as the Redbirds fell to Northern Illinois, 57-52, Thursday night in Redbird Arena. Stekara Hall and Octavia Crumpeach registered career-highs, with 21 and 15 points, respectively.
ISU (1-5) trailed by 11 at the half, 28-19, after shooting just 8-for-28 from the field and enduring two scoring droughts of more than five minutes. The Redbirds performed better in the second half, crawling back to within two points of the Huskies (4-3) on a jumper by Hall with 1:41 left. NIU would respond with two free throws on its next possession, however, and secured the victory down the stretch.
Hall's 21 points were the game-high, and came on 9-of-17 shooting from the floor. Crump notched a career-best for the second-straight game with her 15-point effort, also recording her second double-double by grabbing 10 rebounds. Brianna Puniled all players with 11 rebounds.
The Redbirds started hot offensively, making four of their first five shots to jump out to an 8-4 lead on a jumper by Hall at the 16:36 mark. A lay-in from Crump increased the lead to 10-4 with 15:19 left, but those would be the last points the Redbirds would score for the next 5:01, as they missed their next five shots and committed four turnovers. NIU took advantage, going on an 8-0 run that culminated with a jumper by Jenna Thorp at the 10:38 mark to give the Huskies their first lead of the game, 12-10.
ISU broke the scoring drought on two free throws from Nelson to pull even before regaining the lead, 14-12, on a driving layup from Crump with 9:42 remaining in the half. From there, the Redbird offense went quiet once again, as NIU went on an 8-0 run during a 6:28 ISU scoring drought to grab a 20-14 lead at the 3:35 mark.
A three-point play by Crump snapped the skid, before NIU increased its lead to double digits for the first time with another 8-0 run. The streak was capped by a layup from Jazmine Harris with 15 seconds left in the half to make it 28-17 Huskies. Hall hit a jump shot as time expired in the first half to make it a 28-19 first-half deficit for the Redbirds.
ISU opened the second half much better offensively, making four of its first six shots. NIU countered by making four of its first five, however, and maintained its nine-point lead, 36-27, before heading into a timeout with less than 16 minutes left. The back-and-forth nature continued for the next five minutes, as Crump's layup brought ISU with seven, 43-36, at the 10:35 mark for the sixth time in the half. As it had the previous five times, NIU answered, making it 45-36 with a jumper at the 10:20 mark.
Neither team scored for the next 4:51, until Puni sank two free throws to bring ISU within seven yet again. NIU responded with one free throw, before the Redbirds reeled off four-straight points, pulling to within four, 44-40, on a Crump putback with 4:08 remaining. ISU eventually whittled the deficit down to two before the Huskies secured the victory.
The Redbirds will return to Doug Collins Court for their next game, Sunday at 1 p.m., against Tennessee-Martin.
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