NIU women secure sixth seed, men win season finale

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Women’s basketball

NIU 66, Western Michigan 64: At Kalamazoo, Michigan, the Huskies scored 13 of the last 18 points in the game to win the regular-season finale.

With the win and an Ohio loss at Miami, the Huskies (15-15, 8-10) finished Mid-American Conference play tied with the Bobcats for sixth place. NIU earned the six seed for the MAC Tournament, which starts Wednesday by virtue of the Huskies’ win at Ohio earlier in the season. The Huskies will take on the Kent State Golden Flashes in the final quarterfinal of the day, at approximately 5:30 p.m.

“Today’s game was great preparation for next week,” said head coach Lisa Carlsen after Saturday’s victory. “You expect to have 40 minutes of hard-fought battles at this time of year. Western Michigan provides different challenges than other teams, but I think finding ways to win together has been our m.o. [modus operandi] this season.”

The Huskies got within one with 2:01 remaining when Brooke Blumenfield picked up a loose ball and scored in the lane to make the score 64-63. NIU took the lead with 0:33 left when Laura Nickel found Booke Stonebraker under the basket to put the Huskies up 65-64.

“We knew we had to take advantage of Brooke’s size inside,” Carlsen said. “There aren’t many teams that we can say we have a size advantage against when we step on the floor but that was the case today. We did a pretty good job of executing the gameplan today of getting the ball to our forwards at the basket.”

NIU had four players score in double figures Saturday led by Stonebraker’s 18 points and 14 rebounds for her ninth double-double of the season. Jayden Marable had 13 points, six rebounds and four assists. Grace Hunter had 11 points off the bench and Blumenfeld finished with 10 points.

“We were able to fight and grind out a win to keep building momentum,” said Carlsen. “That’s the mentality you need heading to Cleveland, regardless of who you’re playing. Both us and Kent State are different than we were back when we first played. It’ll take a great effort. I know our team and our coaching staff are excited for this challenge. We’ll get back at it Monday, get a couple of good days of practice and continue to roll the dice and see what happens.”

Men’s basketball

NIU 78, Buffalo 68: At Buffalo, David Coit had a career-best 37 to lead the Huskies in the final game of the year.

Harvin Ibarguen had his first career double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Huskies (11-20, 5-13) against the Bulls (4-27, 2-16).

Buffalo led by as much as 10 in the first half while NIU led throughout the second half. Zion Russell scored 12 for NIU and Ethan Butler had seven points and 11 rebounds.

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