MAC Tourney Day 1:NIU huskies fight their way back after falling behind big in the first half
Cleveland, OH: Had this been a fight the referee would have called it early, but good thing they didn’t…
In the second quarterfinal game at The Q saw the fifth seeded Ohio University Bobcats squaring off against the fourth seeded Northern Illinois University Huskies. OU came into the game feeling good about their win on Monday against the 12 seeded Eastern Michigan Eagles; while NIU had been eagerly waiting to play, having played well enough in the regular season to get a first round bye.
Early on it seemed as though we would witness the first blow out in The Q; the Huskies looked stagnant and rusty from sitting out first round play on a bye. NIU’s zone was thwarted in large part because OU could not miss anything; the Bobcats shot an astounding 57% from 3PT range in the first half. OU came off the tip running and gunning and started the first quarter of play with a 14-5 run. The Lady Bobcats continued to play solid D and drill 3’s up until halftime; when play paused at the midway juncture The Q saw the score sitting at 41-24 in favor of OU. Although NIU was facing a serious deficit there was something that happened right before the halftime buzzer that seemed to have provided a spark of moment for the Huskies. NIU’s Renee Sladek hit a buzzer beating 2 point shot at the baseline, which didn’t seem like much at the time but it would give the Huskies enough belief to start a comeback.
If you live by the three, then you will most certainly die by the three…
The halftime break seemed to put Ohio’s three-point shooting on ice; the Bobcat’s Cavalier-like 3-point shooting percentage dropped from 56% to a pedestrian 34% in the second half. While OU was building a neighborhood with their bricked threes; NIU continued to penetrate the paint and dominated the second half outscoring the Bobcats 48-30. The whole stadium could sense the momentum shift, as NIU seemed like an unstoppable force that saw the Bobcats wishing time would tick faster off of the clock. NIU took the lead with 49 seconds to go in the game and never looked back. OU had a chance to win the game on a last second three as the Bobcat litter looked on in disbelief watching their MAC tourney dreams rim out with the last second shot.
NIU moves on to the semi-finals where they will take on the eighth seeded Western Michigan Broncos who also come off a nail biting comeback game against one seeded Central Michigan. NIU and WMU play Friday in The Q; tip off is 11am