The Northern Illinois University women’s basketball team was within four points of the Toledo Rockets at halftime Wednesday night at the NIU Convocation Center, but a 23-12 third quarter powered Toledo past the Huskies in a 74-61 win.

“You saw for 40 minutes tonight why Toledo is the best team in the league,” said head coach Lisa Carlsen. “They’re a lot to handle at all five spots. They shot the ball particularly well from three. We were not able to keep up with their pace offensively, especially in the third quarter. We’ll get back at it and hope for a better result in a couple days.”

Senior guard Jayden Marable (Bolingbrook, Ill./Bolingbrook) led all scorers in the game with 19 points. Marable was 7-for-12 from the field with two three pointers, adding six rebounds and a team-high four assists. Brooke Stonebraker (Versailles, Ohio/Versailles) had nine points and a team-high nine rebounds. Tara Stauffacher (Columbus, Wis./Columbus) and Brooke Blumenfeld (Northbrook, Ill./Glenbrook North) each had eight points.

NIU (13-14, 6-9 MAC) got out to an 11-5 lead Wednesday night, getting threes from Stonebraker, Sidney McCrea (Cedar Rapids, Iowa/Prairie) and Kortney Drake (Wilton, Iowa/Kirkwood CC) in the first 3:15. Toledo responded with seven straight points as three-pointers from Khera Goss and Nan Garcia put Toledo ahead 12-11 with 5:29 left in the first quarter. The two teams traded the lead until a Marable three at the 3:01 mark tied the game at 17. The Huskies took a 21-19 lead with 1:42 to go in the first on back-to-back baskets by Stonebraker and Blumenfeld, but a Quinesha Lockett layup tied the game at 21-21 going into the second quarter.

Toledo (22-4, 14-1 MAC) scored seven of the first nine points of the second quarter to take a 28-23 lead. The NIU defense then held the Rockets scoreless for almost six minutes, going on an 8-0 run to take a 31-28 lead on threes from Stauffacher and Marable. The Rockets responded with a 9-0 run over1:24 with a Sammi Mikonowicz three giving Toledo a 37-31 lead with 1:32 left until halftime. NIU cut the deficit to four at halftime, 37-33, on a pair of McCrea free throws.

“Offensively, we got some good looks,” Carlsen said. “I think both teams were loving it from the perimeter early on. There were a lot shots we got that we got that we would like again, whether from the paint or the perimeter. I think if we continued to execute we have players who can be successful from those spots.”

The Rockets caught fire from the three-point line to start the second half. Toledo made four of its first five attempts from long range to go on a 12-2 run and take a 49-37 lead with 5:14 to go in the third quarter. The Huskies closed to within eight, 51-43, at the 3:32 mark on baskets by Marable and Stauffacher but Toledo answered with another 9-0 run, highlighted by a Goss three, to take a 60-43 lead with 0:27 left in the third. Toledo outscored NIU 23-12 in the third to go up 60-45. NIU got as close as 11 in the fourth quarter, but could not make a rally to get by the Mid-American Conference leaders.

NIU shot 39.3 percent from the field but was 7-for-25 from the three-point arc. Toledo made 12-of-28 three-point tries and shot 43.8 percent overall. The Huskies outrebounded the Rockets 41-33. Toledo scored 16 points of 16 NIU turnovers. Sophia Wiard led the Rockets with 16 points as Garcia and Lockett each had 14.

The Huskies go on the road for the final three games of the regular season. NIU head to Akron next for a 2 p.m. CT showdown against the Zips on Saturday, March 2 at Rhodes Arena.