The NIU women’s basketball team earned its first win over the DePaul Blue Demons in almost 30 years Saturday afternoon, earning a come-from-behind 86-79 win in the home opener at the NIU Convocation Center.
“Today was a big win,” head coach Lisa Carlsen said. “I’m really proud of this group. Their attention to detail and understanding the gameplan was impeccable. My staff did a great job of putting us in a position to understand what DePaul was going to throw at us and we handled that.”
Senior guard Chelby Koker led the Huskies (1-1) with 24 points, six assists and three steals. She was 9-for-15 from the field with four three-pointers. A’Jah Davis added 20 points and a team-high five rebounds, making 9-of-12 shots from the floor. NIU had five double-figure scorers in total with Jayden Marable scoring 11 and Janae Poisson and Tara Stauffacher adding 16 and 10 respectively off the bench.
“We knew it was going to take a whole team effort,” said Davis, who also had four assists in the game. “We needed a collective unit, and I feel like that been the emphasis this year is playing through everyone, not just myself and Chelby.”
After a back-and-forth first three quarters that ended with an NIU lead, the Blue Demons (1-1) rallied with a 10-5 run to open the final period, taking a 72-70 lead on back-to-back jumpers from Rogers and Morrow. It would be DePaul’s final advantage on the day. NIU’s response started with a Stauffacher layup and Poisson three, leading to a 10-2 run over 2:18 that put the Huskies back in front 80-74 with 2:22 to go.
The Blue Demons only got as close as three the rest of the way as NIU made its free throws down the stretch to lock up the win.
NIU shot 52.5 percent from the field for the game, with DePaul shooting 47 percent. The Huskies had 22 assists against just 11 turnovers, while forcing 15 Blue Demon turnovers. NIU also made 13 three-pointers in the game, holding DePaul to nine. The win was NIU’s first over DePaul since a 64-53 victory on Feb. 15, 1994, also in DeKalb.
“We knew the biggest factor for today was taking care of the basketball,” Carlsen said. “If we took care of the ball, we were going to have shots in the half-court. We had to knock them down but I was confident that was going to happen.”
“We did a really good job preparing for their trapping defense,” added Koker. “We knew they were going to come out hard trying to make us turn the ball over. Our scout team pushed us really hard preparing us for this game and that gave us the edge.”