Created:Saturday, February 4, 2017 4:01 p.m.CDT
Updated:Saturday, February 4, 2017 4:38 p.m.CDT

NIU women's basketball: Huskies grind out win over Western Michigan to stay in first place


DeKALB – It wasn't the usual high-scoring Huskies, but it was enough to keep the Northern Illinois women's basketball team in first place.

The Huskies overcame a double-digit deficit and poor shooting to come away with a 67-62 victory over Western Michigan on Saturday afternoon at the NIU Convocation Center.

It was the second-fewest points scored in a game this year for the Huskies, but Northern Illinois coach Lisa Carlsen said it was important that they were still able to win a game in which they only shot 38.3 percent and trailed by as much as 14 points in the second quarter.

"That was one we just had to grind out," Carlsen said. "Not every game is going to be the same, not every game can be like (the Huskies' win at) Ball State and be 101-96 and everyone's on the edge of their seat from an offensive standpoint. ... Finding different ways to get it done. I think it's huge for us in a lot of different ways."

Sophomore shooter Courtney Woods led three Huskies in double figures with 20 points on 4 for 8 from the 3-point line, senior guard Ally Lehman had 17 points and 14 rebounds for her 13th double-double of the season and senior forward Cassidy Glenn added 18 points.

The Huskies (16-5 overall, 9-1 in Mid-American Conference West) kept themselves alone on top of the conference standings with the win.

It wasn't the best outing for a Huskie offense that averaged 89.1 points per game heading into the day – they trailed 50-45 heading into the fourth quarter – but they took the lead for good on a 3-pointer by Glenn to put them ahead 62-59 with 2:01.

"This was a nice win, but it really pushed us out of our comfort zone," Lehman said. "Usually against all the other teams, we've been able to drive and kick and hit the three and they pushed us to try something else."

The Huskies trailed 57-53 with 4:07 remaining in the game heading into a media timeout. Woods said that this year's Huskies felt differently in the huddle than in years' past.

"I think it looks different this year because we feel that we deserve to win games," she said. "This year we're winning a bit more, so we feel like we're good enough to toughen those games out. ... I never thought we weren't going to win that game. I think we were just waiting and waiting and when Cassidy made that three, it was a switch and we were in position to win it."

They responded with a 10-2 run following the timeout to take the lead for good.

By the numbers: It was a rough day for the Huskies bench, which got outscored 29-2 in the game. The Huskies only played seven players and Renee Sladek had two points and four rebounds in 13 minutes and Janae Poisson was held scoreless in 17 minutes.

Beyond the stats: Northern Illinois honored more than 30 alumni at halftime and during breaks as part of its annual Alumni Day.

They said it:"If you compare it to last year, I think we were definitely panicking more at that point," Lehman said. "We've made some big comebacks this year already. That was something that got tossed around a lot during that timeout was, we've been down 20 before, we've been down 12."

Up next: The Huskies host Central Michigan at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

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