Broncos Hold On For Road Victory at Northern Illinois, 54-51
Both teams struggled to score early in what in the end would be an offensive battle. Western Michigan missed 10 of its first 11 shots to start the game, but warmed up to shoot 30 percent in the first half. The Brown & Gold held Northern Illinois to 27.3 percent shooting in the first frame and led 22-16 at halftime.
The Broncos outscored NIU 19-9 over the first seven minutes of the second half to open a 16-point advantage. The Huskies wouldn't go away easily and mounted a comeback to cut the deficit to two with 4:41 remaining. NIU's Satavia Taylor scored eight of her game-high 18 points during the Huskies' surge.
WMU went back on top by six after a long jumper by Julia Henson and a layup by Alex Morton, but NIU again got within two at the 1:48 mark. On WMU's next offensive set, Marquisha Harris grabbed a huge offensive rebound and finished a turn-around jumper to give Western Michigan a two-possession lead. The Bronco defense followed with a stop on the other end and a foul gave WMU the ball on the far sideline.
Jessica Jessing inbounded to speedy senior Aurielle Anderson who had looped around and sprinted towards the Broncos' basket. Anderson got the ball in the open court and couldn't be caught, finishing an easy layup with 22 seconds left. NIU hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to make for a three-point final.
Jessing and fellow freshmen Morton and Miracle Woods came up big for the Broncos, combining for 25 points, 15 rebounds and three assists.
Woods tied Harris (four rebounds) with a team-high 12 points and had six rebounds. Jessing also had six rebounds and provided a spark off the bench when WMU needed offense in the first half. She finished with nine points. Morton chipped in four points, three rebounds and three assists.
WMU shot 51.9 percent in the second half and 40.4 percent in the game. NIU shot 35.2 percent from the field overall. Both teams pulled down 37 rebounds. Western Michigan had two less turnovers, committing a season-low nine.
It was the first time this season Western Michigan has posted back-to-back victories. The Broncos handed Akron an 84-77 loss at home Saturday. WMU's win in DeKalb was also just the Broncos' second road win of the season and the first since beating Northern Arizona, 78-67, on Nov. 23.
For the Huskies, they have started off conference play 0-5 for the first time in school history. Their season record slipped to 5-13.
Western Michigan will look to make it three wins in a row Saturday, when the team travels to Buffalo (5-13, 3-2 MAC) for a 2 p.m. contest.