Miami University’s women’s basketball team certainly was Wednesday night at Millett Hall, easily leading from start to finish in a 96-51 rout of Northern Illinois University.
With the victory, the RedHawks improve to 5-15 overall and 3-4 in the MAC. The Huskies fell to 8-11 overall and 2-5 in the conference.
The 96 points scored by Miami is the team’s highest offensive output in nearly six years, since scoring 98 points against the University at Buffalo on Feb. 28, 2004.
“I’ve been talking to our team about being consistent, and I’ve been talking about playing hard and playing smart,” Miami Head Coach Maria Fantanarosa said. “As we saw tonight, our defense playing hard and playing smart sparked our offense. I feel like we had a lot of contributions from a lot of different people.”
The Red and White shot 63.5 percent from the field, tied for sixth best in school history and made 12 three-point baskets, good for seventh all-time.
Leading the way for the ‘Hawks was sophomore guard Rachael Hencke with a career-high 24 points on a perfect 10-for-10 shooting performance.
“I’ve really been getting to the gym more and shooting getting in a rhythm,” Hencke said. “I’m being more confident when I shoot, and shooting not just to shoot, but to score. It also helps that in our offense we have so many scoring threats that I was able to get wide open shots.”
Defense played a large role in Miami running all over the Huskies, as the team accumulated five blocks and a season-high 16 steals.
“Our team defense today was great,” Hencke said. “We really tried to double down and get the ball out of the post as much as we could. We were really active and really aggressive on defense, which led to so many steals and getting points in transition.”
Also contributing scoring for Miami was freshman phenomenon Courtney Osborn with 21 points to go along with seven assists and just two turnovers. Sophomore guard Maggie Boyer was the other RedHawk to score in the double digits with 10, missing her first career double-double, finishing with a career-high nine assists.
Osborn did most of her damage in the first 10 minutes of the game, scoring 19 of Miami’s first 32 points to fuel the blowout.
“We broke the press extremely easily and they were so worried about Rachael (Hencke) and Maggie (Boyer) that they found me wide open,” Osborn said. “It helps when you have teammates hitting threes and driving to the hoop to get others open. They didn’t know how to guard us.”
The Red and White quickly jumped on the Huskies, using quick baskets from Hencke and Osborn to build a 12-4 advantage just four minutes in. Northern Illinois would use a quick 6-3 run to attempt to get back in the game, but Miami would have none of it. A 32-2 run over the next 10 minutes effectively put the ‘Hawks in the driver’s seat.
Leading 52-21 at the break, Fantanarosa was careful not to let her team become lazy with the big lead.
“I always use my same set speech at the half,” Fantanarosa said. “We have to act like its 0-0, and we have to win the second half. There was no doubt the team was going to come out and continue to focus.”
Boyer made sure the team would continue to execute, as she hit a quick layup and a three at the start of the half to push the lead to 57-21.
“It’s so huge for us when we can have so many players step up and score, no one knows how to stop us,” Osborn said. “We had our post players hitting shots – Hencke and Boyer were hitting from everywhere. Our bench came in and was very productive. They just couldn’t stop us.”
As the offense continued to shoot the lights out at Millett, Miami built up its largest lead of the season of 49 points, 90-41, with less than four minutes remaining.
While the crowd chanted and hoped for Miami to reach the century mark, they came up just short, as Boyer and junior guard Briana Dunlap each hit threes to finish the scoring at 96 points.
Northern Illinois was led in scoring by junior forward Mauvolyene Adams with 21 points.
The RedHawks will look to stay hot in their next game at 4 p.m. Saturday at Central Michigan University.