Women's basketball uses 42-19 second half to beat NIU and remain undefeated in MAC play
Women's basketball outscored Northern Illinois 42-19 in the second half to help it move to 4-0 in Mid-American Conference play with a 83-56 win on Saturday.
The win makes it the first time in the last six years that the Chippewas start their MAC schedule with four wins.
“It’s a good win for us, and I’m glad to see the defense do its job in the second half," said head coach Sue Guevara. "Now we can just rest.We’re not even going to talk about our next game. We’re just going to enjoy this win today.”
Sophomore guard Crystal Bradford nearly had a triple-double for the second time in three games after recording her third straight double-double and seventh of the season with 14 points and 14 rebounds. She also tied a career-high with eight assists.
“CB is a special player,” said Guevara. "She’s being consistent.”
Junior forward Taylor Johnson had a career-high 25 points while going five for six from beyond the arc. This was her eighth double-digit scoring effort of the season. She joined four other players who scored in double-digits.
“My knee has been giving me a little bit of trouble, and I was struggling in shoot-around a bit,” Johnson said. "Today I pushed through it, but it wouldn’t of been anything without my teammates. I can’t go out there and pass myself the ball.”
The first half was a back-and-forth game where both teams could not find any offensive rhythm, but CMU was able to force eight NIU turnovers, turning them into 13 points.
The largest lead in the first half came at the 1:58 mark after Johnson made her second three-pointer of the half, putting the Chippewas up 38-29; they went into the half with a 41-37 lead.
Senior guard Brandie Baker moved to No. 15 on the programs scoring list after hitting a free-throw at the 15:30 mark in the second half. She finished with ten points, giving her 1,110 for her career.
CMU managed to shoot 46.9 percent from the field in the first half. The Huskies were even better however, going into halftime shooting 62.5 percent.
Guevara said that the first half was just a matter of trying different lineups to see who would step up and stick with the game plan.
“You can blame that first half on me," Guevara said. "I was stubborn and I stayed with our man-to-man defense. I believe, at times, we became very undisciplined, and that’s my fault.”
Coming out of the locker room at the half the Chippewas went on an 18-7 scoring run, pushing their lead to 59-44, while their defense remained stout, forcing seven more turnovers in the second half.
During the last ten minutes of the second half, CMU never lead by less than 14 points, thanks to contributions from the bench, who outscored its opponent for the 16th time in 17 games this season. The Chippewas were also able to take care of the ball throughout the entire game committing only seven turnovers.
Guevara said she really liked how her team responded in the second half, by shutting NIU down and tiring it out over the course of the half.
“I thought our players really responded in the second half when we changed defenses," Guevara said. "We went from 61 percent to 28 percent. That’s the best that defense has looked all year. The goal was to hold them to 56 points … our kids were really honed in.”
This is the third-straight game that CMU has held their opponent to under 60 points, proving it’s not just the offense that can take over games.
The Chippewas will look to go 5-0 in MAC play at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Ohio.