Shooting struggles plague women’s basketball in season finale

Angola Indiana freshman, Hanna Knoll, dribbles down the court during the game against Michigan at McGuirk Arena on Nov. 20th.

With Jahari Smith and Kalle Martinez unavailable, Central Michigan women’s basketball struggled to match Northern Illinois’ depth in the final game of the Mid-American Conference schedule on Saturday.

Although they stuck close with NIU (14-14, 11-9) through 20 minutes, an 0-for-14 start from three hindered the Chippewas as they lost 69-49 in the Convocation Center.

CMU ends the season with a 4-25 overall record and 2-18 in the MAC, having lost 11-consecutive games.

In order to meet the seven-player minimum, Molly Davis was available for the Chippewa but didn’t warm up with the team as things got underway in DeKalb, Illinois.

CMU struggled to find an offensive rhythm at points throughout the season, and those issues returned against the Huskies. 

Absent Smith, Head Coach Heather Oesterle started Anika Weekes at the center and trotted out four freshmen alongside her. The combination worked as CMU stifled NIU’s A’Jah Davis on the interior, sending her to the bench early after picking up two fouls.

Oesterle’s squad continued pressuring on the defensive end, resulting in mistakes from the Huskies.

The Chippewas capitalized and recorded 14 points in the paint while holding NIU scoreless down-low. However, CMU couldn’t capitalize on open-looks behind the three-point line, allowing the Huskies to maintain a slight edge going into halftime.

Freshman Karrington Gordon ended the 3-point drought for the Chippewas in the 3rd. But as soon as CMU tried to rally back, the Huskies strung together a 9-0 run to take an 11-point lead.

As NIU continued to pull away down the stretch, Hanna Knoll caught fire for the Chippewas. After recording 4 points in the first half, Knoll finished the game with a career-high 23 points and four assists while shooting 5-for-8 from three.

By the time the final buzzer sounded, the Huskies’ lead was back to 20 points as their seniors soaked in the home crowd's cheers.

Karrington Gordon was the only other Chippewa to finish in double-digits. Gordon recorded 10 points and five rebounds. Weekes finished with six points, eight rebounds and two steals.

The Huskies finished the game with 53 rebounds compared to 30 for CMU.