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Lady RedHawks make history with 78-77 win over Chicago State

IU Northwest wins 12th straight game

IU Northwest file photo
Sophomore Annmarie Keller drives for a layup during a hard-fought second half at Chicago State on Wednesday.

The Indiana University Northwest Lady RedHawks traveled to Chicago’s South Side on Wednesday and defeated the Chicago State Lady Cougars 78-77 for the women’s program’s first-ever victory over an NCAA D-I opponent.

Listen to the game broadcast.

More photos from the game on Facebook.

It was the women’s 12th victory in a row this season and perhaps their most significant win of the year. It was certainly a noteworthy milestone for a successful program that appears to be at the top of its game as it competes for position in the upcoming A.I.I. Conference Tournament.

“I told them before the game, ‘You cannot quit on any play. If you play hard on every play for 40 minutes, we will win this game,’” said RedHawk Head Coach Ryan Shelton. “This is a special night. This is special for our seniors, who have worked so hard for four years. And it’s special for our younger players, who really stepped up and played hard tonight.”

The game’s final seconds unfolded in dramatic fashion, as freshman point guard Brittany Dewell (Hebron) broke a 77-77 tie with a clutch free throw with 3.8 seconds remaining. Dewell led IU Northwest with six assists on the night but had not scored a point until that moment.

The savvy freshman took advantage of the Lady Cougars’ defensive pursuit of senior Sharon Houston to find an opening inside and draw the shooting foul. Dewell missed the front shot, which only added to the suspense, and CSU took a timeout before her second attempt. Rather than icing Dewell, however, the break seemed to help her forget the miss and focus on the shot that really mattered.

“I think (the timeout) helped, actually,” said Dewell, who looked more nervous after the game than she had at the foul line. “But just knowing that my whole team was out there supporting me, that was huge. This win was for everybody.”

After she hit the foul shot, CSU took another break to cook up a last-second offensive scheme, but the RedHawks’ bulldog defense denied the Cougars a clean shot and the victory.

The win pushed IU Northwest’s record to 15-10 and gave the RedHawks their first-ever victory over Chicago State, which is Assistant Coach Loretta Soria’s alma mater and former team.

“It was all about defense and taking care of the ball,” Dewell said. “We had to step it up when we were down by a lot. We really wanted to win this for Coach Soria. She played here and it meant a lot.”

IU Northwest last played CSU in November 2010 and lost 95-52. On Wednesday, Sharon Houston (Merrillville) recalled that the RedHawks had played close for a half in that game and that it was great to come back and prove something this year.

“We knew we could beat them, but to come out here and do it just makes it even better,” said Houston, who led all scorers with 32 points to go with 13 rebounds and five blocks. “Everybody worked well together and everybody played well. I’m just very excited and very proud of my team. A lot of our younger players really stepped up tonight. This could be the biggest game of their lives.”

What made the RedHawks’ win even more thrilling was the way it began. CSU jumped out to a 6-0 lead and pushed the advantage to as much as 14 during a cool first half for Northwest. But two beautiful three-point shots by sophomore Annmarie Keller (Kouts), and one each by freshman Kelly Gross (Crown Point) and sophomore Brianne Wischman (Portage), keyed a rally that left the visitors trailing just 40-39 after 20 minutes.

“Those three-pointers by Annmarie were huge,” Shelton said. “That may have saved the game for us. If she doesn’t hit those, then maybe we go down 20 and never get back in it.” 

Those were the only two treys of the night for Keller, but she also attacked the basket for a series of critical second-half shots and finished with 19 points.  Freshman post player Ashley Parish (Griffith) contributed nine points to go with eight rebounds in a tough performance inside. Gross finished with seven points and Wishcman hit a pair of treys for six, while Paige Hickenbottom (Hebron) scored four on a night when every point mattered.

CSU put five players into double figures but no one player was able to dominate, and their leading scorer, Janay Dockery (17 points), fouled out in the final minute.  

As the victorious Lady RedHawks congratulated each other on their historic win, a crowd of supporters at least five times larger than the home crowd stood and applauded their effort. Later, Shelton said that this was the team he expected to have from the start, the team that began the season ranked 18th nationally in NAIA before a series of injuries and other complications contributed to a 3-10 start.

“It’s been a long, strange trip to get here, but we are the team that we thought we would be coming into the season,” Shelton said. 

Wednesday’s game marked just the second time in the history of IU Northwest’s NAIA D-II athletic program that one of its teams defeated an NCAA D-I foe. In 2008, the men’s basketball team traveled to Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond and stunned the host Colonels 74-73 in an upset that earned them notice on ESPN.

That team, under former coach Pete Trgovich, Jr. and led by stars Pete Trgovich III and Jesse Howell, went on to a 20-win season.

The Lady RedHawks next will travel to Kuyper College on Friday and Grace Bible College on Saturday as part of twin doubleheaders with the men’s team, which defeated Moody Bible on the road last week 70-69 in OT for its third win of the season.

The next and final women’s home game will be Senior Night on Thursday, Feb. 16, at 5 p.m. as part of yet another doubleheader. The A.I.I. Conference Tournament, which will determine what two teams advance to the NAIA National Tournament, is scheduled for the end of the month in South Dakota.


Media Contact

Erika Rose
Office of Marketing and Communications

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Additional Article Photos

IU Northwest file photo
RedHawk announcer Brian Snow interviews Brittany Dewell after her game-winning free throw with 3.8 seconds left to defeat the Chicago State Lady Cougars 78-77.