This time, the Huskies didn't wait until they were down 22 to start a comeback.
The Northern Illinois women's basketball team scored 14 straight in the first quarter, taking command in an 83-55 win in a Mid-American Conference semifinal win over Western Michigan on Friday.
The Huskies (21-10) advance to face Toledo at 10 a.m. Saturday for the title and a trip to the NCAA tournament, which the Huskies last made in 1995.
“An opportunity to play in the championship game for any team is great, but like you mentioned, it's not a place that NIU has necessarily found themselves very often [recently],” NIU coach Lisa Carslen said. “We have talked about restoring the glory. I've had the opportunity to talk to some of the alums who were part of the good times, especially in the ‘90s, and it means a lot to them to see us play well.”
In the quarterfinals on Monday, the No. 4 Huskies trailed Ohio by 22 in the second quarter and as much as 18 in the fourth before coming back for the win. Against the No. 8 Broncos (19-13), the Huskies were down 8-2 early before rolling off 14 straight. They led by 20 at halftime, and the second half lead was never less than 18.
The teams played on March 4, with Western Michigan winning at home, 90-77, in the regular-season finale.
In the win, Ally Lehman became not only the single-season assists leader for the Huskies (203), but the career leader as well (527). She had 17 points, six assists and seven rebounds.
“I've coached some talented players before, but I don't know that anybody makes the people around her better than Ally has made them this year,” Carlsen said. “She's a fiery competitor and she's fierce on the court, and she'll run through the wall and do anything you ask. I think any time you have a player like that, you have a chance.”
Cassidy Glenn had 10 points and a team-high nine rebounds, Courtney Woods had a game-high 19 points to go with seven rebounds, Kelly Smith scored 15 and Janae Poisson 10.