Players line up to shake hands after the Women’s Basketball game against Western Michigan University on Wednesday, 25 January 2017. The Bobcats won with a score of 80-66, with Katie Barker scoring 18 points on Wednesday, January 25, 2017. (WOUB / Drake S. Withers)

Northern Illinois Ends Ohio’s Season in a Heartbreaking Comeback Victory

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Fifth-seeded Ohio (22-9, 12-6) looked destined for the Mid-American Conference Tournament semifinals being up 16 after the first quarter, 17 at halftime, and 12 following the third quarter.

But the women could not finish it out as four-seeded Northern Illinois stormed back late in the fourth quarter to grab a 72-71 victory in the MAC Tournament quarterfinal, ending the Bobcats’ season.

Today’s game was a story of two halves for the Bobcats.

Ohio began the game meteorically hot. They sank 6-of-11 shots from behind the arc in the first quarter and finished the first half 9-for-21 on 3-pointers.

Amani Burke provided a much-needed spark off the bench. She led all scorers at halftime with 11 points and grabbed five rebounds.

Defensively, the Bobcats were staunch. They held the Huskies to a dismal 27 percent from the field during the first two quarters. Jasmine Weatherspoon collected five blocks.

Up 41-24 at halftime, things were looking promising for the Bobcats.

And then the second half began.

NIU’s offense immediately found its rhythm. The Huskies started hitting the open jumpers they missed in the first half. Renee Sladek and Kelly Smith made their presence known down low. And most importantly, the All-MAC first team member, Ally Lehman, began orchestrating the offense the way she had all season.

The Huskies dropped 26 third-quarter points, more than doubling their point total in the first half. Ohio clung to their 62-50 lead heading into the final quarter.

The NIU comeback train refused to let up. NIU’s zone-defense forced Ohio to become stagnant. The Bobcats spent many of their trips down the court on offense just passing the ball along the perimeter. Too many possessions ended with Ohio taking a deep, contested 3-pointer as the play clock neared zero.

The shots from downtown that were falling early weren’t anymore. Ohio’s sizzling start was beginning to burn out as the Huskies outscored the Bobcats 22-9 in the final period.

Mikayla Voigt’s layup with 2:12 tied the game at 69. The Bobcats had been in the lead since middle of the first quarter.

Lampkins hit a pair of free throws, allowing Ohio to regain its lead. These would be the last points of the game for the Bobcats.

Cassidy Glenn hit a driving layup with 34 seconds left, which ended up being the game-winner. Burke missed a go-ahead three in moments before the buzzer, sealing Northern Illinois’ comeback win.

Weatherspoon finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Jenkins dropped 17 points and Burke added 16. Voigt and Lehman led the Huskies with 19 and 17 points, apiece.

Northern Illinois squares off with No. 8 seed Western Michigan on Friday in the MAC tournament semifinals.