Michael Benson: December 2011 Archives

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT...

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Basketball dominated the schedule this week, as both the men's and women's teams played a pair of games during the first week of winter break.

Men's Basketball: They hung tough in both contests, but the Huskies dropped a pair of non-conference games at the NIU Convocation Center against DePaul and Southern Illinois. Wednesday against the Blue Demons of DePaul, the Huskies were within striking distance for all of the first half and part of the second, but turnovers and hot shooting by the visitors resulted in a 75-52 Huskie loss. The team followed that up Saturday with a 62-49 defeat against the instate rival Salukis.

Women's Basketball: Northern Illinois split their pair of the games during the week by defeating Indiana and losing to UIC. The Huskies lost a tough, defensive struggle Wednesday night against the Flames, 49-47, after UIC scored on a jumper with 1.1 seconds remaining. However, the team found themselves on the other side of a close game Saturday at Indiana, when Courtney Shelton drained a three with nine seconds left in the game to send NIU to a 60-59 upset, resulting in the team's first win against a Big Ten opponent since 2006.

Northern Illinois will host three events this week before the Christmas weekend. On Tuesday, NIU men's basketball welcomes Valparaiso to the Convo for a 7 p.m. tilt. Wednesday, the wrestling team hosts Kent State, Cleveland State and Cumberland in a quad meet, which begins at 11 a.m. inside Victor E. Court. Women's basketball wraps up NIU's pre-Christmas schedule Thursday night when they take on Indiana State at 7 p.m.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT...

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Finals week meant a light schedule for Northern Illinois Huskie Athletics, as only three teams competed during the normally hectic week. Nonetheless, there were several bright spots to the week's events.

Men's Basketball: Despite leading at the half, the Huskies could not secure their first win Saturday as the fell to the UIC Flames, 62-55, in Chicago. Antoine Christian and Kevin Gray each contributed 11 points in the effort, while the defense got 12 turnovers. Yet, the Flames would hit several clutch free throws at the end to take the victory.

Women's Basketball: Northern Illinois won their second game in a row and their first on the road Sunday afternoon with a 73-40 shellacking of Chicago State. Claire Jakubicek paced the Huskie offense with 21 points and five assists, in addition to seven rebounds. As a team, NIU shot 61.2 percent from the field, while limiting the Cougars to a slim 25 percent.

Track & Field: NIU got their 2011-12 season off to a fast start Friday in Ames, Iowa, as they took three event titles at the Cyclone Holiday Preview. Janay Mitchell not only won the 60m dash, but broke the NIU record in the event with a time of 7.57. Roneisha Frye (60m hurdles) and Rebecca Cronin (800m) also scored event titles, while Rasheta Butler set a new school record in the 300m with a time of 40.00.

The Huskies begin their Christmas break schedule this week with the men's and women's basketball teams each playing a pair of games. On Wednesday, the women host UIC at 5:30 p.m. and the men play DePaul at 8 p.m. in the first of four men's-women's doubleheaders at the NIU Convocation Center. The men's team will then play Southern Illinois Saturday in DeKalb, while the women hit the road to play Indiana.

REPS. HULTGREN, JOHNSON HONOR MAC CHAMPION HUSKIES

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Congressmen Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.) and Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) jointly congratulated the Mid-American Conference champion Northern Illinois Huskies this week on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives after their 23-20 win over the Ohio Bobcats in Friday's Marathon MAC Championship in Detroit.

Hultgren, whose district includes NIU, won a friendly wager with Johnson, who represents the district that includes Ohio University, over whose school would win the conference title game. As a result of the Huskie victory, the congressman from the losing district was required to give a speech on the House floor congratulating the team while holding the winning team's helmet.



BRAD DIECKHAUS RANKED IN TOP 20 NATIONALLY

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Following a 4-0 start to the season, senior Brad Dieckhaus is now ranked in the top 20 nationally in the 184 weight class in four major polls. The St. Charles, Mo., native currently sits in 18th with WrestlingReport.com and 20th with InterMat, WIN Magazine and D1CollegeWrestling.net.

Additionally, fellow Huskies Nick Smith and Kevin Fanta are getting some love for their fast start. Smith, who boasts a team-best 9-1 record this season, comes in at No. 21 with WrestlingReport.com's 125 pound rankings, while Fanta sits 32nd nationally with WrestlingReport.com after a 3-0 start to the season.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT...

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The Huskies earned another conference championship over the weekend with the football team's win against Ohio Friday night, while volleyball's season came to an end in the NCAA Tournament.

Football: The Huskies clinched their first MAC title since 1983 Friday night in Detroit with a 23-20 victory against the Ohio Bobcats. Trailing 20-0 at halftime, NIU engineered a second-half comeback that included three Chandler Harnish touchdown passes and a stout defensive performance. The win, though, was not secured until Mat Sims converted on a 33-yard field goal as time expired. The Huskies will now play Sunday, Jan. 8, 2012, in the GoDaddy.com Bowl against the Sun Belt Conference champion Arkansas State Red Wolves.

Volleyball: Northern Illinois's season came to a close Friday night in Ames, Iowa, as the Huskies were defeated by No. 25 Miami, 3-1, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Lauren Wicinski paced the Huskies with 23 kills, while Kristin Hoffman registered a double-double with 47 assists and 13 digs. NIU finishes the season with a 28-7 record.

Men's Basketball: There were two more tough losses for the Huskies during the week, as NIU lost to Utah Valley and Nebraska Omaha. On Monday night, the Huskies were tied with UVU into the second half, but a scoring drought doomed Northern in a 58-47 defeat. In their return home Saturday afternoon, Tim Toler scored 25 points and the team committed a season-low eight turnovers, but the Mavericks' 52 percent shooting performance lifted them to a 77-72 win against NIU.

Women's Basketball: NIU pulled out a close win Tuesday night with a 53-50 win against instate rival Southern Illinois. Trailing 50-49 late, Alicia Johnson sank a jumper with 13 seconds left to put NIU ahead for good. The Huskies were paced by Amanda Corral, who put in 17 points in the win.

Wrestling: The Huskies pushed Purdue to the brink Thursday night in DeKalb, but couldn't pull out a win in a 19-15 loss at the annual NIU Showcase Meet. Trailing 16-9 with three matches left, the Huskies scored wins at 184 and 197 to pull within one point of the Boilermakers. Yet, Jared Torrence's valiant effort at heavyweight was for naught, as Purdue won the final match in triple-overtime to escape with a win.

With finals week in full swing, the schedule becomes very light for the Huskies. Men's basketball plays their lone road game in December Saturday at UIC, while the women's basketball team also heads to the Windy City to face Chicago State Sunday. Meanwhile, track & field kicks off their 2011-12 schedule Friday at the Iowa State Holiday Preview.