Women's basketball pulls away from Northern Illinois in second half

Freshman center Jahari Smith drives to the basket on Dec. 20 at McGuirk Arena.

Another road Mid-American Conference game, another victory for Central Michigan women's basketball. This time it came against Northern Illinois.

The Chippewas (12-3, 3-0 MAC) used a strong second half to defeat the Huskies (9-6, 1-2 MAC), 89-66.

"I'm really proud of our kids to stay focused like they have," said CMU coach Sue Guevara. "Five days on the road, we've had study table every single day. They're in the books and then when that two hours is done, they're digesting the scouting report and executing in the games."

Saturday's matchup started as a back-and-forth battle as the lead changed six times in the opening frame. The biggest lead for either team in the first quarter was five points. Northern Illinois had their lead with 7:31 to go in the first quarter. CMU took the lead with 3:53 to go in the first quarter, and they didn't trail again.

In the second quarter, Sue Guevara's team extended their lead to 12 points on a layup from freshman forward Jahari Smith off a shifty pass from sophomore guard Micaela Kelly with two seconds to go before the teams hit the locker rooms for the halftime break. 

Senior forward Reyna Frost racked up her 13th double-double of the season in the first two quarters alone with 16 points and 18 rebounds.

The Chippewas opened up the second half with a strong 10-2 run led by Frost, Smith and Kelly to push their lead up to as many as 20 points with 6:04 to play in the third quarter. 

From then on, CMU did not remove its foot from the gas, giving the Huskies no chance to crawl back into the game. 

CMU went up by as many as 26 points in the forth quarter off a 3-pointer from senior guard Presley Hudson with 4:25 to play to hand the Huskies their first defeat at the NIU Convocation Center this season. 

Frost ended the game with 20 points and a career-high 21 rebounds. Smith racked up 18 points, while Kelly added 16 points. 

"When you have Frosty and Jahari, the way that she finished today, and then (Kyra Bussell), those three were able to get in the paint, they were able to finish for us," Guevara said. "We were able to drive and we made layups -- high-percentage shots and we were able to put them down."

Hudson shot 4-of-5 from long range as she tallied 24 points. 

Defensively, CMU held the Huskies' star, Mikayla Voight in check. She scored 10 points, and Myia Starks led the way for NIU with 17 points. 

The Chippewas play host to Miami (Ohio) 7 p.m. Jan. 16 in McGuirk Arena. The RedHawks are coming off a 66-59 loss to Buffalo and are currently 10-4 and 1-2 in MAC play.