Northern Illinois edges Akron
Davis nails putback with six seconds remaining to lift Huskies
CLEVELAND -- Kim Davis’s grit pushed Northern Illinois into the third round at the MAC tournament on Wednesday. Courtney Shelton missed but Davis nailed a put-back in traffic with six seconds left to knock off Akron 61-60.
"They hurt us on the offensive glass all night and that's how we won -- Kim Davis gets the put-back," NIU Head Coach Kathi Bennett said, who is now 27-15 in postseason play and 2-1 in the MAC Tournament. "I thought that was pretty special. We never stopped believing, even when we lost the lead. We just had to execute."
Akron (14-18, 7-9 MAC) then had a chance to answer as Jasmine Mushington got the ball on the left wing with nearly three seconds left but her desperation attempt was too long and hit the opposite side of the backboard as time expired.
A tight first half left NIU with a 27-23 lead after Davis stole an Akron outlet pass for an easy layup with nine seconds left. Both teams struggled from the field as NIU went 12-for-35 (34 percent) and Akron was 8-for-33 (24 percent). The half featured seven ties and 10 lead changes as neither side could seize control of the game.
|NORTHERN ILLINOIS VS. AKRON|
But in the first four-plus minutes of the second half, the Huskies took command. Amanda Corral started the stanza with a spinning layup for a three-point play. Jenna Thorp then followed with a layup to give NIU its largest lead at the time, 32-23.
A few minutes later, Shelton drained a jumper from the top of the key to give the Huskies their largest lead of the game, 42-32 with 13:51 left. But Akron used a 22-11 run over the next nine minutes to take a 54-53 lead with five minutes remaining.
Nearly three minutes later, the game was still tied, 57-57 with 1:47 left after a pair of Davis free throws. Then, Akron's Kacie Cassell hit a wide-open three to take a 60-57 lead. NIU failed to convert on its end, and the Zips had the ball back with under a minute to go.
The Huskies relied on a tough defensive stand to get the ball back and Shelton scored on a floater in the lane to cut the lead to one, 60-59 with 33 seconds left.
On defense NIU then immediately fouled Cassell. The strategy worked as she missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw attempt. Davis secured the rebound for NIU and Bennett called timeout to set up the final play with 18 seconds remaining.
Four Huskies scored in double figures. Corral and Shelton each had 14. Davis and Satavia Taylor tallied 12 apiece. Davis and Corral also added nine and seven rebounds, respectively.
Mushington led Akron with a game-high 17 points.