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Women's basketball suffers first MAC loss in rout at NIU

Grand Rapids senior Kyra Bussell jumps into the air to grab the ball during the game against the Akron Zips Jan. 6 at Kulhavi Court.

Molly Davis drilled a deep 3-pointer and nodded her head in excitement. Her teammates celebrated the shot, which came as a sigh of relief after what had been an abysmal first quarter. The buzzer beater seemed to be the shot of life Central Michigan needed and just the spark it would need to erase what was currently a 12-point deficit. 

As she has done so many times, it appeared that Davis had begun to shoulder the load and would lead her team out of the hole it had created with fouls and poor defense.

Then, the whistle blew. 

A review of the shot, and the moments leading up to it, showed that the clock had stopped for a moment after a missed Northern Illinois shot on the previous possession. Davis' shot was rendered after the buzzer and negated, and the 12-point lead became 15. 

On a night where the Chippewas couldn't get any advantages against the Huskies, who were firing on all cylinders, it was just a nail in the coffin. The Huskies knocked off the Chippewas, 104-73, in the NIU Convocation Center on Jan. 13 in DeKalb, Illinois. 

NIU (5-5, 3-2 MAC) scored the game's first nine points, and 12 of the first 14, leaving the Chippewas (7-3, 5-1 MAC) reeling from the opening tip. The two teams came into the game as the top two squads in 3-point percentage, and the Huskies lived up to their billing while the Chippewas struggled early on. 

And once CMU did get going, NIU always had an answer. 

Senior guard Micaela Kelly drilled a 3-pointer, only to see Janae Poisson hit one on the other end. Senior forward Kyra Bussell hit a jumper, but Poisson again answered from beyond the arc. The Chippewas couldn't convert on a third consecutive possession, and NIU forward Mikayla Brandon knocked down her team's third straight 3-pointer. 

It was that kind of night for CMU. 

The Chippewas trailed 54-31 at halftime as the Huskies made eight first-half 3-pointers. Kelly scored 16 in the first 20 minutes, but all other options were neutralized. 

Any momentum the Chippewas could muster out of the locker room was quickly erased to the tune of three straight triples from the Huskies. Point guard Chelby Koker hit one and Paulina Castro had two consecutive. The Chippewas put together a 12-2 run to trim a deficit that swelled to as much as 33, but went scoreless for the following two minutes. 

NIU opened the fourth quarter on a 13-4 run to crush any hopes the Chippewas had of a comeback. Six Huskies scored in double figures, led by Brandon with 18 points. The Huskies hit 15 3-pointers and shot 53 percent from the field against the Chippewas, who came into the game as the best perimeter defending team in the MAC. Forward A'Jah Davis scored 14 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for her second double-double of the season. 

The Huskies also out rebounded CMU 47-34 and had 19 assists to the Chippewas' 12. 

Kelly scored a season-high 33 points, while Davis was the only other player in double figures with 18. Junior forward Jahari Smith grabbed seven rebounds but was held scoreless. Bussell scored four points on 1-for-13 shooting. 

The Chippewas return to action at 1 p.m. Jan. 16 when they host Ohio in McGuirk Arena.