NIU women fall to IUPUI in opener

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DeKALB – After surrendering the first 13 points of the game, the NIU women's basketball team wasn't able to get back in the contest in an 85-61 home loss to IUPUI on Wednesday in the season opener.

After Janae Poisson hit a 3-pointer in the second quarter to get the lead down to 29-20, the Jaguars (1-0) answered right back, and the lead was never single digits again.

"We knew the opponent coming in today was going to challenge us in all facets of the game, and they proved that to be true," NIU coach Lisa Carlsen said. "Starting out in a hole we looked like a young team and they looked like a veteran team. And unfortunately playing from behind all afternoon made things that much more difficult."

The Huskies (0-1) shot 35.6% from the floor and 6 for 26 from 3-point range. IUPUI also scored 28 points from 18 NIU turnovers.

IUPUI shot 49.3% from the floor, 43.5% from 3, and committed 16 turnovers.

"I think a big part of it is they hang their hat on the defensive end," Carlsen said. "They made it very difficult for us. We obviously didn't get in any good flow offensively, which means we didn't have great spacing and we didn't get the shots we're used to getting because of their defensive pressure. It's not like we had great looks or great shots that just didn't go in, they really made us work for everything."

Chelby Koker set a career-high with 21 points and added six rebounds, two assists and three steals. She also committed eight turnovers.

Koker said she felt like she needs to handle the ball better.

"I'm looking forward to the next game to be better and have a better outcome in the game as well," Koker said. "I think they're a very good defensive team with their pressure. And it was also a little bit of the first game, but I know some of the things were on me and I need to get better."

Poisson's eight points were her second-highest total since 2017 as she's been plagued by injuries, only playing 14 games the last three years combined. She did score nine against Ohio last year in one of her seven games played.

"Just being as healthy as I've felt the last three years have definitely contributed to how I felt on the court," Poisson said. "I'm just happy to be out there. Obviously I'm not happy with the outcome, but I don't take anything for granted anymore. So getting out there and getting to contribute in a more physical role than verbal means a lot to me."

By the numbers: Errin Hodges, who missed all of last year, was the only other Huskie in double figures with 10 points. Mikayla Brandon and Emily Meinert each had six rebounds. Macee Williams led the Jaguars with 22 points as four IUPUI players hit double digits. Williams also had 10 rebounds.

Beyond the stats: A'Jah Davis was on the bench with a crutch and a boot on her right leg. Carlsen said she expected the 6-1 sophomore to make a leap this year, and might have given the Huskies more of an answer to the 6-2 Williams. Carlsen said she's day-to-day and hopes to have her back next week.

They said it: "Anytime you're playing against someone like Macee Williams, who is just a great, great presence, A'Jah is for us the same thing – a low-post presence," Carlsen said. "I think the physicality made a difference. It's one more body to throw at her."

Up next: The Huskies face Eastern Illinois on Dec. 4.

Eddie Carifio

Has been the sports editor in DeKalb since 2014.