DEKALB, Ill. - Ohio Women's Basketball was bested in a defensive battle at Northern Illinois on Saturday afternoon, losing by a final score of 50-46. An improved second half by the Bobcats wasn't quite enough to match impressive second-half shooting by NIU's Kim Davis and Claire Jakubicek, who combined for 24 points in the final 20 minutes of play.
Tenishia Benson (Akron, Ohio) led the way for the Bobcats, scoring a game high 18 points on 6-of-13 shooting. She was joined in double figures by Porsha Harris, who scored 11. Davis and Jakubicek each tied for the most points on NIU, finishing with 16 apiece.
Ohio (10-14, 3-7 Mid-American Conference) shot 30.9 percent from the field throughout the game, connecting on 17 of its 55 attempts including a 2-of-14 mark from distance. The Huskies shot 43.5 percent and held a 41-29 rebounding advantage. Northern Illinois (10-12, 4-6 MAC) also won the points-in-the-paint category, scoring 36 down low to Ohio's 22. The Bobcats forced the Huskies into 18 turnovers while only committing 11 of their own.
The teams battled through strong defensive play early in the first half, with Northern Illinois opening the action on a quick 4-0 run through the first two minutes. Ashley Fowler (Cincinnati, Ohio) got the Bobcats on the board just about a minute later, hitting a three-pointer from the near sideline. Ohio was later able to grab a 7-6 lead when Harris scored a put-back basket at the 12:54 mark, but NIU then ripped off a 6-0 run to take a 12-7 lead.
Both teams struggled from the field in the first half, as the Huskies connected on nine of their 23 field goals to shoot 39.1 percent while the Bobcats went 7-of-27 from the floor, connecting on 25.9 percent of their attempts. Ohio's defense was very strong, forcing the Huskies into nine first-half turnovers. Four of these were collected by Ohio's Shavon Robinson. Tenishia Benson made a big play at the very end of the first frame for the Bobcats, going coast-to-coast in six seconds and hitting a long jumper as time expired.
Through the first 20 minutes of play, Northern Illinois held a 20-15 lead. The Huskies held a 20-18 rebounding advantage and scored 16 of their 20 points in the paint. Benson and Harris led the way for the Green and White in the first half, scoring four points each.
Ohio connected on two early field goals in the second half, as Harris drove through contact to score a tough layup and Fowler hit another shot from beyond the arc. This early strong play was matched by an equally impressive opening few minutes from NIU's Jakubicek, who scored eight points in just the first five minutes of the second frame.
Northern Illinois stepped on the gas and opened up a 10-point lead midway through the second half but Ohio put together a 6-0 run of its own to make the score 34-30 at the 10:14 mark. The Bobcats upped their defensive pressure, shutting the Huskies down for three consecutive possessions to narrow the gap.
Ohio was then able to pull within three (42-39) with just under five minutes to play in the game. Harris came up with a big rebound on a missed shot by Robinson around the one-minute mark and got fouled on her follow-up attempt, connecting on one of the free throws to pull within two points.
This was as close as the `Cats would come in the end, as NIU was able to close out the game with solid free-throw shooting and claim a 50-46 win in the end.
The Bobcats will next be in action on Saturday, Feb. 11 when they close out MAC crossover play with a game against Ball State. The Cardinals will come to Athens for a 2 p.m. tip-off.