MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – On a night that the Central Michigan women’s basketball program couldn’t quite find its groove offensively, the Chippewas clamped down on the other side of the court to grind out a Mid-American Conference win over Northern Illinois, 65-60.
The Chippewas (8-8, 4-0 MAC) were held under 70 points for just the third time this season, but were able to secure their fourth-straight victory by giving up a season-low 60 points to the Huskies (6-8, 2-2 MAC).
The Huskies continued to hold on and took a 44-43 advantage with 14:23 to play on a three by Danny Pulliam, but it was then that the Chippewas’ defense clamped down to take control.
The Chippewas held the Huskies to just one field goal over the next 8:41 of the contest, allowing them to go on a 10-3 run to take the lead, 53-47, with 7:56 to play. Redshirt freshman Jewel Cotton started the run with a step-back jumper in the paint with 13:52 to play and Bradford and Green scored four each during the run. Pulliam ended the scoring drought for the Huskies with a three with 5:42 to play to cut CMU's lead to four, 53-49.
A triple by NIU’s Amanda Corral cut the CMU lead to one, 53-52, with 4:29 to go, but Bradford the Chippewas next eight points to assure the Huskies could not pull off a comeback of their own.
NIU pulled within four again, 59-55, with 1:38 to play and had a chance to cut it to a one-possession game, but a Bradford came up with a big block on Jenna Thorp with just under a minute to go.
NIU was forced to foul the Chippewas with 28 seconds remaining, but senior Niki DiGuilio missed the front end of a one-and-one only to see Bradford fight for an offensive rebound and knock down both her attempts from the charity stripe to extend the lead to 61-55.
Despite the fact DiGuilio had a rare off night from the floor, shooting just 1-for-9, the senior came up with a key defensive stop with 13 seconds left in the game, stepping in front of Pulliam to draw a charge on a layup that would have again cut the Chippewas’ lead to just two points.
Junior Jas'Mine Bracey, who finished with her fifth double-double of the season on 10 points and 14 rebounds, knocked down four-straight free throws down the stretch to seal the game.
Bradford posted her 10th double-double of the season in the first half with 12 points and 10 boards and finished with a game-high 27 points and 15 rebounds. The junior also had five steals and three blocks on the defensive end.
Green finished with 12 points and a pair of steals to give CMU three in double figures, while sophomore Da'Jourie Turner scored eight key points 4-of-5 shooting.
Natecia Augusta led the Huskies, scoring 17 points and 10 rebounds, while Pulliam had 18 points. Corral, NIU’s leading scorer finished the evening with 10 points.
The Chippewas are off to their second-straight 4-0 start in MAC play and will host Bowling Green Saturday at noon. The Falcons are also undefeated at 4-0 in league play and have a 14-2 record overall on the season.
The game will be broadcast on Time Warner Cable Sports, ESPN3, Comcast Michigan, ESPN Full Court and BCSN.