DeKALB – Northern Illinois women’s basketball coach Kathi Bennett thought her team played with “no fear” in the overtime period of Thursday’s 68-59 win against Toledo.
The Huskies, after not taking advantage of a chance to win the game at the end of regulation, came out on fire in the extra period – the Huskies’ first overtime game since Feb. 28, 2012, with early back-to-back 3-pointers from Alexis Lindstrom and Amanda Corral.
“I think we just took open shots and just played with no fear. That might sound simple, but we’ve got nothing to lose, let’s just go for it,” Bennett said. “(Get) open, take [shots], and we did. Took good shots, stayed aggressive.”
The win was extremely important for NIU (9-16, 5-10 Mid-American Conference), which came into the contest losers of six straight. The Huskies are tied with Eastern Michigan for eighth place in the MAC. The fifth through eighth seeds will host first-round MAC tournament games, and the Huskies visit Eastern Michigan on Sunday. NIU defeated the Eagles, 77-54, Jan. 12 in DeKalb.
“We control that destiny by going to Eastern and getting a win,” Bennett said. “That would give us two games up. We control [our destiny] in our next three games, that’s all we know.”
Corral led the Huskies with 20 points on 9-of-17 shooting. Lindstrom provided a nice spark off the bench, scoring 14 points while going 5 of 7 from the field and 4 of 5 from 3-point range. Lindstrom came into the contest shooting 41 percent from behind the arc in her past five games.
“Everyone that created [the opportunities], that’s what got me open,” Lindstrom said. “It wasn’t about me, it was about them.”
NIU trailed Toledo (13-13, 8-7 MAC) 47-40 with 6:24 remaining, but the Huskies came back on a 7-0 run to tie the score at 47 after a Jazmine Harris free throw with 3:30 remaining.
With the Huskies up 54-52 after a Danny Pulliam layup with 23 seconds left, the Rockets’ Andola Dortch tied the score on a lay-in with 10 seconds remaining.
NIU got the ball to Corral on its final possession, but the junior wasn’t able to get a shot off.
“I thought we played great defense in that last 70 seconds,” Toledo coach Tricia Cullop said. “Did a good job of staying in front of them, not fouling and forcing it into overtime.”
Wednesday’s game featured an 11:30 a.m. start time, with the idea of getting elementary schools out to the game. Bennett said a number of them were scheduled to attend, but had to cancel because they already had missed a number of school days because of weather.
Bennett wants to give the weekday matinee another shot.
“In the future, hopefully we can do it earlier in the month of January, when we don’t run into that and (can) really get a full house,” she said. “So, I think the concept and the idea is great. It’s just too bad that we had some snow, but that’s something we look forward to in the future.”