Michael Benson: March 2012 Archives

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Gymnastics: Northern Illinois earned its highest team scores of the season on both floor exercise and vault en route to a fourth-place finish at the 2012 Mid-American Conference Gymnastics Championships Saturday at the NIU Convocation Center. The result reflected a marked improvement from the Huskies' seventh place finish of a year ago as five different NIU gymnasts in six events earned spots on the awards stand at the conclusion of the meet.

Baseball:
Northern Illinois won their home opener Tuesday with an 8-6 victory against the UIC Flames to give sophomore Eli Anderson his first career win. The team opened MAC play at Kent State, but were swept in the three game series. Alex Klonowski notched four hits against the Golden Flashes in a 12-6 Friday loss. Saturday turned into a pitchers' duel, but KSU emerged with a 6-1 win. The Huskies could not prevent the sweep Sunday with a 5-3 loss.

Men's Golf: The Huskies earned a pair of top four finishes in Florida during the week to complete their mid-March Florida trip. at UCF's Rio Pinar Invitational, NIU was led by Blake Emory's final-round 67 to earn fourth place in the 15-team field. Later in the week at the FAU Spring Break Championship, Northern took third place, trailing only Florida State and Ohio State in the team standings.

Women's Golf: The Northern Illinois University women's golf team sits in third place after posting a strong first round at the 18th Annual Saluki Invitational at Hickory Ridge Golf Course Sunday.The Huskies shot a season-low 317 with junior Allie Parthie leading the way with a four-over-par 76. Parthie is in the top 10 placing sixth after one round of play.

Men's Tennis: Facing the preseason Mid-American Conference favorite Western Michigan, the Northern Illinois men's tennis squad entered unafraid and defeated the Broncos, 5-2. It was the Huskies 11th win all-time versus the Broncos and the first win in at least a decade against WMU.

Women's Tennis: The Huskies dropped their first two Mid-American Conference matches of the season. On Friday, NIU was swept by Western Michigan, 7-0, in Kalamazoo. They returned to the courts Saturday in Bowling Green, Ohio, but were ousted by the Falcons, 7-0.

Seven NIU teams are in action during the week. Among the highlights are softball's home opener Tuesday against Illinois State and ensuing four-game weekend slate, the start of baseball's eight-game homestand and men's and women's tennis' DeKalb openers. 

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Wrestling: Huskies Kevin Fanta and Brad Dieckhaus were eliminated Thursday at the NCAA Championships at Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo. to end the Northern Illinois wrestling team's 2011-12 season. Fanta lost to #9 Nick Dardanes of Minnesota, 12-4, then was eliminated by pin against Iowa State's Luke Goettl. For Dieckhaus, he lost an 8-4 decision to Nathan Schiedel of Binghamton before being forced to forfeit his wrestleback match due to injury.

Gymnastics: Senior Tanya Rachan scored a 9.900 on floor exercise, the top score by a Northern Illinois gymnast on floor since 2005 and the first 9.9 by a Huskie on any event since 2009, to lead NIU at the State of Illinois Classic Saturday in Champaign, Ill. With the score, Rachan tied for first on floor exercise and was named to the 2012 All-State team. Rachan's score led the Huskies to a season-best 49.000 team total on floor exercise, the team's top score on any event all season and a mark the floor squad had targeted since the first meet of the season. Natalie Sutter scored a 9.825 on floor exercise to tie for fifth and freshman Peyton Taylor added a career-high 9.800 to take seventh place.

Baseball: The Huskies went 2-4 during the week. After dropping 7-2 and 4-1 decisions to Saint Louis in midweek play, NIU headed to Carbondale, Ill., to take on Illinois and Southern Illinois. After a 6-4 Friday loss to the Salukis, the Huskies were defeated by the Fighting Illini, 7-2. Northern rebounded with two wins to finish the week. Saturday afternoon, NIU topped SIU, 9-4, then followed that up with a 3-0 shutout of UI on Sunday.

Softball: Northern Illinois went 5-4 in a busy week in Florida. NIU began the week with a Tuesday sweep against Canisius and Florida Gulf Coast, then split their Wednesday pair of games against Iona and Central Florida. At the USF Tournament, the Huskies got off to a quick start by defeating Towson, 7-0, and Bryant, 7-6. The remaining games, though, did not go NIU's way. On Saturday, the Huskies lost 4-1 to North Florida and 5-1 to South Florida. Their week was completed with a 2-0 loss against Boston.

Women's Golf: The Huskies competed in two tournaments during the Spring Break week. On Monday and Tuesday, NIU finished 12th at the Don Benbow Invitational, with Allie Parthie leading the Huskies with a tie for 15th. At the NIU Snowbird, Northern held on to seventh place, while Parthie paced NIU with a fifth place showing.

Track & Field: The Northern Illinois track & field team got their outdoor season off to a quick start in Saturday with two event titles and two school records at the UCF Black & Gold Challenge. As a team, the Huskies combined for 15 top five finishes and nine personal records in the season-opening competition.

Men's Tennis: The Huskies went a perfect 4-0 in Florida. On Monday, NIU defeated North Carolina Central and Quinnipiac by identical 6-1 scores. They followed that up on Tuesday with a pair of 6-1 wins against Youngstown State and Bucknell.

Women's Tennis: NIU split their two games in Florida during the week. The Huskies defeated Bethune-Cookman, 5-2, to end the Wildcats' 10-match winning streak. The next day, Northern dropped a 6-1 decision to Embry-Riddle.

Six Huskie teams will be in action this upcoming week. Baseball opens their home schedule Tuesday with a game against UIC at 3 p.m., then begin MAC play during the weekend at Kent State. Additionally, men's golf has two tournaments in Florida, while men's and women's tennis open conference play on the road. Women's golf is also in action, as they head to Southern Illinois for the SIU Invitational.

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Men's Basketball: The Huskies' season came to an end this week with a big upset and a near miss the second time. NIU traveled to Ypsilanti, Mich., Monday to take on fifth-seeded Eastern Michigan. Led by Tony Nixon's 14 points, Northern knocked off the Eagles, 48-45. The Huskies nearly found that magic again Wednesday night in Cleveland, but Western Michigan pulled away late for a 71-54 win.

Women's Basketball: Northern Illinois defied the odds and made a deep run in the MAC Tournament all the way to the quarterfinals. The Huskies were stuck in a nail-biter Wednesday afternoon against Akron. Trailing 60-59 with under ten seconds to go, Kim Davis grabbed an offensive rebound and laid it in with six seconds remaining to give NIU a 61-60 victory over the Zips. Their season came to an end Thursday afternoon, though, when third-seeded Toledo earned a 72-62 win.

Gymnastics: Northern Illinois struggled on its first event, the uneven parallel bars, and went on to a disappointing third-place finish and an overall score of 192.075 Saturday night at the EMU Eagle Invitational. The Huskies finished behind host Eastern Michigan, who totaled a 193.850, and runner-up Air Force (192.250), while picking up a win over Temple (190.725), to put their season record at 5-7 overall. NIU finishes its MAC regular season slate 2-4.

Baseball: The Huskies took two of three over the weekend at the Riverview Inn Challenge in Clarksville, Tenn. They began the weekend with a 5-1 win over host Austin Peay when Jordan Rishavy drove in the winning run in the top of the 10th inning. NIU repeated that performance Saturday with a 6-5 win against Arkansas State. Their weekend ended with a 13-9 loss to Dayton.

Softball: Northern Illinois split their four games at the DeMarini Invitational in Columbia, Mo. Saturday saw the Huskies throttle Alcorn State, 11-3, in five innings and top Boise State, 5-1. The next day, NIU dropped a 4-3 decision to Boise State and a 8-0 loss to host Missouri.

Men's Tennis: With two singles matches left to play, Northern Illinois was at the heels of No. 68 Brown, 3-2. However, the Huskies were unable to overcome of the deficit and fell to Bears, 5-2. The loss drops NIU to 10-5 on the season.

Spring break week will have many teams competing in warmer climes, as five of the seven teams in action (women's golf, men's tennis, softball, women's tennis, track & field) will be in Florida. Meanwhile, baseball has a two game set in St. Louis before a weekend round-robin at Southern Illinois, while wrestling caps off their season at the NCAA Championships in the Gateway City.

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Men's Basketball: The Huskies closed out their regular season by splitting two hard-fought games. On Wednesday's Senior Night, NIU came from behind to defeat Toledo, 65-61, behind double figures from Abdel Nader and Aksel Bolin. That momentum partially carried into Saturday, where the visiting Huskies grabbed an early lead on Ball State. However, the Cardinals emerged with a 62-51 win in Muncie.

Women's Basketball: Northern Illinois faced Western Michigan twice in DeKalb this week with far different results. On Tuesday, the Broncos spoiled Senior Night with a 66-64 overtime victory in the Convo, despite Satavia Taylor's 20 points. The Huskies, though, exacted revenge on their MAC West rivals in the first round of the conference tournament, handing the Broncos a 68-51 defeat Saturday.

Wrestling: Senior Brad Dieckhaus and sophomore Kevin Fanta both secured bids in the NCAA Championships for Northern Illinois Sunday at the MAC Championships. As a team, the Huskies finished fifth with 41 points, falling just a half-point behind Ohio for fourth. Central Michigan won the tournament title with 89 points, followed by Kent State, Eastern Michigan and the host Bobcats. Buffalo took sixth place on the day.

Gymnastics: The Huskies recorded the second-highest team score in school history en route to a 195.100-194.350 dual meet victory over Illinois State Sunday in Normal. NIU posted its best team totals of the year on uneven parallel bars, balance beam and floor exercise with six scores of 9.800 or higher in three different events. The Huskies did not count a score lower than 9.650 on the day while raising their record to 4-5 overall. Northern Illinois' total topped its previous season best of 194.775, set Feb. 11 at Bowling Green. The 195.100 matches the mark posted on Feb. 1, 2004 at Kent State which ranks behind only the 195.650 school record set March 23, 2003 at the State of Illinois Championships.

Baseball: Northern Illinois came close again, but failed to notch their first win of the season. Following Monday's 3-2 heartbreaker at No. 24 Texas Tech, the Huskies headed to Surprise, Ariz., for the Coca-Cola Classic. On Thursday, the team collected 10 hits, but lost 14-7 to Winthrop. The next day, NIU took No. 11 Arizona State to extras, but lost on a walk-off single, 4-3. NIU rounded out the tournament with a 10-5 loss to Iona and a 11-3 defeat from Oregon State.

Softball: The Huskies went 2-2 over the weekend at the Coach B Classic in Carbondale, Ill. On Saturday, NIU defeated Wright State, 5-1, before falling later to SIU-Edwardsville, 4-3, in eight innings. Northern would go 1-1 again on Sunday, shutting out Western Illinois, 5-0, and losing to the host Salukis, 15-7.

Men's Tennis: The Huskies returned to their winning ways at home Saturday with two 7-0 wins against Southern Illinois and Eastern Illinois. In both matches, NIU lost just one doubles match each to earn their ninth and 10th wins in 2012. However, the winning streak came to an abrupt end Sunday when Northern was handed a 6-1 decision at Wisconsin.

Women's Tennis: Northern Illinois took down the Milwaukee Panthers on Sunday by a score of 4-3 for its sixth win of the season. It was the second time this year the Huskies found themselves on the winning end while at the Boylan Tennis Center. With the victory, NIU sits at 6-4 on the season.

NIU's upcoming week will be dominated by MAC Tournament action. The women's team heads to Cleveland Wednesday to take on Akron at 1:30 p.m., while the men open their tournament Monday night at Eastern Michigan. Additionally, men's tennis hosts Brown in Rockford Friday; gymnastics goes to Ypsilanti, Mich.; baseball is in Clarksville, Tenn., and softball plays in Columbia, Mo.
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