DeKALB, IL (WTVO/WQRF) – The Northern Illinois University women’s basketball team opened its 2020-21 season Wednesday afternoon with an 85-61 loss to the IUPUI Jaguars at the NIU Convocation Center.
“We knew the opponent coming in today was going to challenge us in all facets of the game,” said head coach Lisa Carlsen following Wednesday’s season opener. “IUPUI proved that to be true. We looked like a young team and they looked like a veteran team. I give credit to IUPUI. That’s a postseason team from last year returning most of their firepower. I do think this will be a great teaching tool for our young ballclub to learn some things and hopefully continue to grow and get better.”
Sophomore guard Chelby Koker (Racine, Wis./Shoreland Lutheran) led NIU in scoring with a career-high 21 points, adding six rebounds, three steals, and two assists. After scoring six points in the first half, Koker scored 11 in the third quarter alone. Errin Hodges (Pontiac, Ill./Evansville Central [Ind.]) scored 10 points and pulled in four rebounds while Janae Poisson (Matteson, Ill./Marian Catholic) added eight points.
IUPUI (1-0) raced out to a 13-0 lead before Mikayla Brandon (Bourbonnais, Ill./Bradley-Bourbonnais) put the Huskies on the board at the 6:36 mark of the first quarter. Three-pointers from Grace Hunter (Monroeville, Ind./Bellmont) and Paulina Castro (Elgin, Ill./Harvest Christian) capped off a 12-2 NIU run over 4:25 and got NIU within three, 15-12. IUPUI built its lead back up to seven, 21-14, at the end of the opening period.
NIU (0-1) closed the gap to four at the start of the second quarter on a Riley Blackwell (Plainfield, Ind./Plainfield) three. However, the Jaguars went on a 12-3 run over 3:55 to take a 33-20 lead with 5:05 to play until halftime. IUPUI shot 57.9 percent from the field in the second quarter to take a 50-29 lead.
“For the first time we put a uniform on this year against somebody else, I thought we were a little frantic and jittery,” Carlsen said. “Once we settled down we were a little better, but by then we were playing from behind.”
The Huskies got as close as 16 points with 4:26 to play in the third quarter when Poisson put in a layup to make the score 58-42, capping an 8-2 run. Koker had six points in that stretch. NIU’s best offensive quarter was the third, scoring 18 points while shooting 38.5 percent from the field and made 8-of-11 free throws.
NIU was held to 35.6 percent shooting from the field and just 6-for-26 from long distance. The Jaguars shot 49.3 percent and held a 42-35 edge in rebounds. IUPUI also turned 18 NIU turnovers into 28 points.