Basic's Buzzer-Beating Three Leads NIU Women's Basketball To Victory Over Defending MAC Champion Eastern Michigan

GO HUSKIES
GO HUSKIES

GO HUSKIES
Northern Illinois (5-6, 1-2 MAC) at Bowling Green (8-2, 2-0 MAC)
1 p.m. (CST) l Sunday, January 9, 2005
Anderson Arena (4,700) l Bowling Green, OH

Game Day Quick Facts:
Television: None

Radio: The Huskie Sports Radio Network with Bill Baker and Sid Simmons airs on 1360-AM WLBK (DeKalb), 1060-AM WRHL (Rochelle), 95.7-FM WSEY (Rockford, Freeport, Sterling, Dixon) and 102.9 FM (LaSalle-Peru).

Coaches: Rob Judson (Illinois ’80) is 44-56 in his fourth season at Northern Illinois. Bowling Green head coach Dan Dakich is 124-90 in his eighth season with the Falcons.


Northern Illinois at Bowling Green Probable Starting Lineups
Northern Illinois Ht. Wt. Yr. Hometown PPG RPG APG

F 33 Johnathan Byrd 6-9 225 Sr. Chicago, IL 8.0 4.0 0.5
F 32 Todd Peterson 6-8 225 Jr. Pekin, IL 9.4 2.9 1.0
G 22 Cory Sims 6-1 185 Jr. Livingston, AL 8.1 3.5 4.4
G 23 Mike McKinney 6-4 200 So. Evanston, IL 11.5 5.8 2.0
G 3 Anthony Maestranzi 5-10 165 Jr. Bartlett, IL 8.2 1.4 3.8

Bowling Green Ht. Wt. Yr. Hometown PPG RPG APG
F 1 Germain Fitch 6-4 220 Jr. Huntsville, AL 3.7 2.9 2.2
F 14 John Reimold 6-6 240 Sr. Greenville, PA 16.0 5.2 2.0
C 2 Josh Almanson 6-8 243 Sr. Bowling Green, OH 18.9 4.8 1.2
G 10 John Floyd 6-2 185 So. Toledo, OH 6.2 2.3 5.5
G 32 Steven Wright 6-3 170 Jr. Dayton, OH 13.4 3.3 2.8

Quick-Hitters
Northern Illinois is in its 100th season of college basketball and will be playing its 1,969th contest this evening ... The Huskies are 1,009-959 all-time and will be looking for their 23rd win against Bowling Green ... While the NIU-BGSU series is tied 22-22 all-time, the Huskies have won just twice in the last 10 meetings, including a 63-46 win in Bowling Green on Jan. 25, 2003 ... Northern Illinois and Bowling Green have shared two common opponents thus far ... Bowling Green dropped a 69-59 decision at DePaul (84-69 NIU win) and defeated Bradley 81-65 at home (76-74 NIU loss) ... Just 12 points separate Northern Illinois from a 9-2 record this season ... A young squad with just one senior, Northern Illinois has dropped four games by a combined 12 points, which include their last two MAC contests vs. Western Michigan (72-69) and at Miami (64-59) ... Despite being a sophomore, Mike McKinney continues to take steps towards becoming the Huskies’ “Go-To Guy” ... McKinney has reached double figures in three consecutive games for the second time in his career and is averaging 15.7 points and 5.0 rebounds over that stretch ... Northern Illinois is tied with Ball State for the MAC lead in free throw percentage (73.0) ... Anthony Maestranzi has hit 16 consecutive free throws dating back to a Dec. 11 miss at Eastern Illinois.

Scouting Bowling Green
Bowling Green has raced to an 8-2 start (5-0 at home) thanks to the outstanding play of seniors Josh Almanson, John Reimold and Cory Eyink ... The MAC’s leading scorer, Almanson is averaging 18.9 points per game and has been near flawless from the field, hitting 62.7 percent of his field goal attempts ... While Almanson mans the middle, Reimold rounds out the MAC’s top scoring duo (34.9 ppg) with a 16.0 scoring average ... A deadly three-point shooter (27-of-55, .491), Reimold leads the Conference in three-point accuracy and ranks fourth in three-point makes (2.7) ... After dropping the season-opener 69-59 at DePaul, Bowling Green, the MAC West leader (2-0), has won 8-of-9 games with their lone loss coming at Oakland 77-53 on Dec. 30.

The Series With The Falcons
The most hotly-contested Mid-American Conference series for the Huskies, Northern Illinois and Bowling Green have played to a 22-22 tie in 44 career meetings ... The home court hasn’t provided much of an advantage in the series, as NIU sports an impressive 9-14 record in 23 all-time meetings at Anderson Arena ... Rob Judson is 1-4 all-time vs. the Falcons, but that one win came Jan. 25, 2003, when the Huskies defeated the Falcons 63-46 at Anderson Arena, halting BGSU’s six game winning streak in the series.

Big MAC: McKinney Taking Scoring Reigns
Although seven Huskies are averaging better than 7.8 points per game, sophomore guard Mike McKinney has used a recent scoring surge to separate himself from the rest of the pack ... The team’s leader in both scoring (11.5) and rebounding (5.8), McKinney has hit for double-figures in each of the past three games, including career highs of 19 points and 10 boards vs. Western Michigan (Jan. 2) ... McKinney started his scoring run with 13 points vs. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Dec. 29) and most recently poured in 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting at Miami (Jan. 5) ... Over the three-game stretch, McKinney is averaging 15.7 points on 19-of-32 shooting (59.4 percent) and earned All Tournament recognition at the Flint Hills Islander Invitational (Dec. 28-29) in Corpus Christi, TX.

Lt. Governor To Honor NIU Men’s Basketball On Jan. 22
Northern Illinois men’s basketball will present Illinois Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn with a check for $3,000 for the Illinois Military Relief Fund at halftime of the Jan. 22 contest with Eastern Michigan ... The Huskies raised the funds through their Hoops For Troops campaign, which included the selling of $1 red silicone bracelets to students, fans and the general public ... So far the campaign has sold nearly 3,000 bracelets and will continue at home games throughout the season.

Sims, Maestranzi Each On Pace For 100 Assists This Season
The 2004-05 season could produce the top assist tandem in school history ... While just 11 Northern Illinois players have topped the 100 assist plateau over the previous 100 seasons, both Cory Sims (48) and Anthony Maestranzi (42) are on pace to accomplish the feat this season ... Never have two NIU players topped 100 assists in the same season and only three times have two players combined for more than 200 assists.

Top Northern Illinois Assist Tandems:
Year Players (Assists) Total
1995-96 Ronald Minter (133) 220
Vaurice Patterson (87)
1979-80 Jay Bryant (163) 203
Steve McCuiston (40)
1988-89 Donald Whiteside (106) 200
Stacy Arrington (94)


McKinney Registers First Career Double-Double vs. W. Michigan
Sophomore guard Mike McKinney enjoyed a career day in the near upset of defending MAC Champion Western Michigan on Jan. 2 ... A 6-foot-4 guard, McKinney recorded his first career double-double, with career-highs of 19 points and 10 rebounds vs. the Broncos in a 72-69 defeat ... The team’s top rebounder (5.8), McKinney became the first Huskie to enjoy a double-double since Marcus Smallwood on March 6, 2004, at Western Michigan with 13 points and 10 rebounds ... The last NIU guard with a point-rebound double-double was Stephen Jones, who scored 20 points and grabbed 10 boards on Feb. 2, 2001, against Central Michigan in an 81-74 overtime loss in DeKalb.

Playing Beyond Their Years
A young club with just one senior (Johnathan Byrd) Northern Illinois continues to enjoy great performances from its underclassmen this season ... Although 12-of-13 players will return for next season, eight of the team’s 10 healthy players are contributing now, led by the four-player sophomore class of James Hughes, Bryson McKenzie, Mike McKinney and Paige Paulsen ... McKinney continues to lead the team in both scoring (11.5) and rebounding (5.8), which included his first career double-double, a 19-point, 10 board effort vs. Western Michigan (Jan. 2) ... Paulsen (8.5) and Hughes (7.8) are also among the team’s leading point producers for a sophomore class that is averaging 28.4 points and 16.0 boards per contest ... Below is a class-by-class comparison for point-rebound production and their percentage of the 2004-05 season production:

Class Pts (%) Rebs. (%)
Freshmen 7.0 (10.2) 3.2 (9.8)
Sophomores 28.4 (41.3) 16.0 (49.4)
Juniors 25.7 (37.4) 7.8 (24.1)
Seniors 8.0 (11.1) 4.0 (12.3)

Rebounds don’t add to 100% because of team rebounds.

Filling-It-Up: NIU Vets Maestranzi, Peterson At Home On The Road
Northern Illinois, and in particular, juniors Anthony Maestranzi and Todd Peterson, have found comfort in the thousands of fans screaming AT them on the road instead of WITH them at home ... Now 4-3 in games away from the Convocation Center, NIU hits the road yet today at Bowling Green (Jan. 9) and NIU’s two most experienced players couldn’t be happier ... So far this season, Peterson (11.6 ppg) and Maestranzi (8.9) have seen their scoring averages increase on the road and are shooting a robust 48.6 and 51.9 percent, respectively, from three-point range ... While Peterson scored a career high 20 points in a road win at Eastern Illinois, Maestranzi lit up Texas A&M-Corpus Christi for a career high tying 19 points on 5-of-7 three-point shooting ... At the two-game tourney, Maestranzi and Peterson combined for 67 points on 17-of-27 (.629) shooting from three-point range.

Three Huskies Earn All-Tournament Accolades
Led by Most Valuable Performer Anthony Maestranzi, Northern Illinois placed a tournament-record tying three players on the All-Tournament Team at the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Flint Hills Islander Invitational in Corpus Christi, TX (Dec. 28-29) ... Maestranzi averaged 17.5 points and hit 9-of-12 three-pointers in the two wins, as NIU won its first tourney title since the 1999-2000 season ... The 5-foot-10 guard averaged 14.5 points and hit all-seven of his three-point attempts in the second half of both contests to help the Huskies overcome halftime deficits to St. Bonaventure (28-27) and Texas A&M-CC (36-27) ... Todd Peterson and Mike McKinney joined Maestranzi on the All-Tournament squad ... Like his classmate Maestranzi, Peterson was on fire from bonus distance, hitting 8-of-15 (.533) treys, which included a team-high tying 19 points in the title game vs. TAMU-CC ... McKinney was the tourney’s most versatile performer, averaging 10.5 points, 3.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game ... In the opener vs. St. Bonaventure, McKinney battled through a 2-of-10 shooting performance to pace the team with six assists and eight boards, before pouring in 13 points in the finale.

The Three Is The Key
Three-point shooting has been the key for Northern Illinois as the Huskies are averaging 9.6 treys per game in their five wins and just 5.3 in their five losses ... The MAC’s third ranked shooting team from bonus distance (.392), NIU is shooting 40.7 percent over their last nine games, including 23-of-42 (.548) in their two-game tournament win at the Flint Hills Islander Invitational in Corpus Christi, TX ... The Huskies opened by hitting 11-of-20 treys vs. St. Bonaventure, before burying a season-high 12 triples vs. the host Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders in the championship finale ... NIU has already reached double-figures in three-point makes three times this season, including the 11 it hit in a 84-69 win at DePaul … Last week the Huskies made 31 triples (62 attempts) in three games vs. the Bonnies, Islanders and Western Michigan, going 2-1 during that stretch.

The Italian Assassin: Maestranzi Deadly From Beyond The Arc
Mired in an early-season shooting slump that saw him hit just 27 percent of his shots from the floor (9-of-33), Anthony Maestranzi has burst onto the scene with a 10.8 ppg. scoring average over his last five games ... After opening with a nine point effort at Kansas State (Dec. 21), Maestranzi led the Huskies in back-to-back contests, by scoring 16 points vs. St. Bonaventure (Dec. 28) and a career-high tying 19 vs. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Dec. 29) before pouring in eight vs. Western Michigan (Jan. 2) ... The junior has hit 12-of-25 (.480) three-pointers during the stretch, including 10-of-16 shooting from bonus distance in the second half ... The Bartlett, IL, native hit 9-of-12 treys at the two-game Flint Hills Islander Invitational, averaging a team best 17.5 points, 14.5 of which came in the second half to earn MVP honors.

Road Sweet Road?
Sounds funny but it’s true for Rob Judson’s young Huskies ... Just 1-3 in home games, Northern Illinois is sporting an impressive 4-3 mark away from the Convo this season, with four non-home wins in their last six tries including a two-game tournament win in Corpus Christi, TX (Dec. 28-29), and a pair of impressive road wins at DePaul (Nov. 27) and Eastern Illinois (Dec. 11) ... NIU got its first win of 2004-05 at DePaul’s Allstate Arena by an 84-69 margin, marking the first time it had ever won at DePaul and giving Judson his first win in Chicagoland ... The Huskies then traveled to Charleston, IL, to face the 3-2 Eastern Illinois Panthers and outscored the hosts 44-26 in the second half to cruise to the 76-60 win ... That 16-point triumph was the largest margin of victory on the road since a 63-46 win at Bowling Green (Jan. 25, 2003) and the largest non-conference road win since a 79-57 win at Drake (Dec. 22, 2001) ... Most recently, the Huskies won a pair of games at the Flint Hills Islander Invitational in Corpus Christi over St. Bonaventure (71-62) and the host Texas A&M-Corpus CC Islanders (73-67) in the championship game ... Texas A&M-Corpus Christi was ranked No. 25 in the RPI at the time of the game … Conversely, NIU is just 1-3 at home this year with those three losses coming by a combined seven points.

Road Sweet Road ... The Stats
Below is a statistical comparison of Northern Illinois’ three home and seven non-home games this season.

Home Category Road
1-3 Overall Record 4-3
68.0 NIU Points Per 69.3
67.8 Opp. Points Per 66.6
41.8 Field Goal % 46.8
44.2 Opp. Field Goal % 43.8
37.7 Three-Point FG% 40.2
38.8 Opp. Three-Point FG% 31.7
72.4 Free Throw % 73.4
36.2 Rebounds Per 30.1
+ 3.7 Rebound Margin -2.8
14.0 Assists Per 15.2
7.3 Steals Per 7.1
16.0 Turnovers Per 13.1

Huskies Enjoying Season of Firsts
The 2004-05 campaign has become a “Season of Firsts” for the Huskies ... NIU notched its first-ever win at DePaul (84-69) on Nov. 27 and opened MAC play with a win (66-58 vs. Akron) for the first time since Jan. 4, 1984 (76-67, vs. Central Michigan) ... The Akron contest was also NIU’s first win in a conference-opener of any kind since Jan 4, 1996, when the Huskies defeated Loyola to open Midwestern Collegiate Conference play ... Northern Illinois continued its “Season of Firsts” on Dec. 11 at Eastern Illinois when it won at Lantz Arena for the first time since Jan. 27, 1992, and the tournament title at Texas A&M Corpus Christi was the program’s first since winning the Florida International/Doral Tipoff during the 1999-2000 season.

NIU Topples Second RPI Top 25 Foe
Northern Illinois’ 73-67 win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi gave the Huskies their second win over a Top 25 RPI opponent this season ... The Huskies earned their first “quality” win on Nov. 27 when they won at DePaul (84-69) when the Blue Demons were receiving votes in both the USA Today/ESPN Coaches and Associated Press Top 25 polls.

Balanced Huskies ... Scoring
With 8-of-10 players averaging better than 6.0 points per game, it’s no surprise opponents have had trouble game planning around one specific Huskie ... In just 11 contests, NIU has had a different leading scorer seven times with only sophomore Mike McKinney and juniors Todd Peterson and Anthony Maestranzi leading the team in point production more than once ... Prior to Maestranzi and Peterson’s 19-point effort at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, the Huskies had a run of seven consecutive games with a different leading scorer:

NIU Opponents High Scorer
at Loyola 13 - McKinney
SMS 11 - McKinney
at DePaul 19 - Paulsen
Bradley 17 - Sims
Akron 15 - Pancratz
at Eastern Illinois 20 - Peterson
at Kansas State 14 - Byrd
vs. St. Bonaventure 16 - Maestranzi
at TAMU-Corpus Christi 19 - Maestranzi
19 - Peterson
vs. Western Michigan 19 - McKinney
at Miami (OH) 15 - McKinney

While McKinney (11.5) is the lone Huskie averaging double figures, Peterson (9.4), Paige Paulsen (8.5), Maestranzi (8.2), Cory Sims (8.1) and Johnathan Byrd (8.0) all average better than eight points per game.


Balanced Huskies ... Minutes
As you would expect, that balance extends to playing time as well, as each participant in NIU’s eight-man rotation averages better than 18.5 minutes per contest ... Only Anthony Maestranzi (32.5 mpg) averages more than 30 minutes per game, while Mike McKinney (29.2), Cory Sims (27.0), Zach Pancratz (25.8), Johnathan Byrd (20.5), Todd Peterson (21.3) and Paige Paulsen (20.9) average more than 20 minutes ... Just off that 20-minute pace is James Hughes, who averages 18.5 minutes ... Six of the eight Huskies (excluding Peterson and Hughes) have all played at least 30 minutes in a game this season, led by Maestranzi, who has accomplished the feat nine times in 11 tries ... McKinney (six times) and Sims (five times) have each done it on multiple occasions, while the freshman Pancratz has done it three times ... Seven of the eight Huskies (Peterson excluded) in the rotation have set career highs for playing time this season.

Peterson Heating Up From Three
Junior forward Todd Peterson continues to be a match-up nightmare because of his size and shooting prowess ... Among the team’s tallest players at 6-foot-8, Peterson is quickly moving up Northern Illinois’ career three-point shooting chart thanks to his 23-of-53 (.434) start from beyond the arc this season ... After opening the year 0-of-3 from three-point range vs. Loyola (Nov. 20) and Southwest Missouri State (Nov. 24), Peterson has hit at least one trey in 8-of-9 games and has hit 23-of-50 treys (.460) over that stretch ... Peterson has hit three or more 3-pointers five times this season with four of those coming in the last seven games ... The Pekin, IL, native moved into sixth in NIU history in career three-pointers (137) at the Flint Hills Islander Invitational (Dec. 28-29) where he hit 8-of-15 treys in wins over St. Bonaventure (3-of-7) and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (5-of-8) to earn All-Tournament Team recognition ... Earlier this season, Peterson enjoyed a 5-of-6 afternoon at DePaul (Nov. 27), and 4-of-6 shooting vs. Eastern Illinois (Dec. 11) ... Next on the NIU career list for Peterson is Chris Coleman, who made 145 career three-pointers.

Calling Up The Reserves: NIU Bench Producing Big Numbers
Northern Illinois’ bench has provided an impressive 38.8 percent of the team’s scoring this season with 26.7 of the team’s 68.8 points per game coming from the reserves ... Overall, the Huskies have enjoyed 13 double-figure scoring performances from their bench, including career highs of 20 points by Todd Peterson (at Eastern Illinois, Dec. 11), 17 points by Cory Sims (vs. Bradley, Dec. 1) and 15 points by Zach Pancratz (vs. Akron, Dec. 4) ... James Hughes has also reached double-figures three times off the pine, while Sims (four) and Peterson (three) have accomplished the feat multiple times as well ... Most recently, Paige Paulsen and Sims came off the bench to pour in 13 and 11 points, respectively, in a 64-59 loss at Miami.

Maestranzi, Sims Among MAC’s Top Assist Combinations
Juniors Anthony Maestranzi and Cory Sims are one of the most proficient assist tandems in the Mid-American Conference ... Second in the MAC to Kent State’s DeAndre Haynes (7.4 apg) and Jason Edwin (2.0 apg), Maestranzi and Sims are combining for 8.2 assists per contest and are the only teammates to rank among the top 10 in the league in assists per game ... Sims recently moved into the team lead (48 assists) by averaging 5.2 assists per game over his previous six contests, thanks to a career high eight assists at Eastern Illinois (Dec. 11) and at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Dec. 29) ... Sims currently ranks eighth in the MAC with 4.4 assists per game, just ahead of Maestranzi, who ranks 10th with 3.8 dimes an outing ... The 5-foot-10 guard also ranks third in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.8-to-1).

Huskies Secure MAC-Opening Win
For the first time since Jan. 4, 1984, Northern Illinois came away with a win in a Mid-American Conference opener, thanks to a 66-58 triumph over the Akron Zips in DeKalb ... To help put that losing streak in perspective, Lionel Richie’s All Night Long was the No. 1 song in America at the time of the last Huskie win and stamps cost just $.20 ... Prior to the victory, NIU had lost nine consecutive MAC lid-lifters and eight straight conference openers of any kind ... The last conference-opening win was Jan. 4, 1996, vs. Loyola when the Huskies and Ramblers were members of the Midwestern Collegiate Conference.

McKinney Boarding Like Crazy
There aren’t many better rebounding guards than Mike McKinney ... With 5.8 boards per game, the 6-foot-4 sophomore is not only the team leader, but ranks third in the MAC among guards, just behind Miami’s Chet Mason (7.6 rpg), and Western Michigan’s Ben Reed (6.1 rpg) ... Overall, McKinney ranks 11th in the MAC regardless of position and is 10th with 2.5 offensive boards per game.

Sims’ Simmers Down The Stretch
Newcomer Cory Sims is at his best with the game on the line ... Although the Huskies have dropped four decisions by a combined 12 points, the junior college transfer has played a big part in putting the Huskies in a position to win every night out ... The team’s best penetrator, Sims has scored 44 of his 89 points (49.4 percent) in the game’s final 8:29 ... On Dec. 1 vs. Bradley, Sims scored 10 of his career high 17 points in the final 4:49, plus the overtime period, to bring NIU storming back in a 76-74 overtime loss ... Sims also scored seven of his 10 points in the final 2:14 in a 65-63 home loss to Southwest Missouri State and five of his 10 points in the final 6:19 in the opener at Loyola ... Most recently, Sims scored seven of his 13 points at Miami in the final 8:29 to bring NIU back from a 51-43 deficit to take a 54-53 lead with 1:27 left.

Byrd Lifts-Off, Sets Career-Highs In 10 Statistical Categories
The most improved player in the Mid-American Conference? ... At the very least, senior center Johnathan Byrd will get consideration as he continues his torrid start to his final season of collegiate basketball ... Seldom used (7.9 mpg) off the pine last season, Byrd has developed into NIU’s most dependable post performer and ranks sixth on the team in scoring (8.0 ppg), while leading the squad in field goal percentage (62.7) ... A starter in all-11 games this season, Byrd has already tripled his 2003-04 scoring output of 28 points and his 20.5 minutes per game ranks second on the team among post players ... After opening the season with a career-high 11 points at Loyola (11/20/04), Byrd reset that career number with 13 first-half points in the Huskies’ 84-69 win at DePaul and did it again with 14 points vs. Bradley (12/1/04) and Kansas State (12/21/04) ... Byrd is shooting a team-best 62.7 percent from the floor (37-of-59) and is second in the MAC with 17 blocked shots ... Just 11 games into the season, Byrd has set career highs in points (14), field goals (6), field goal attempts (9), free throws (3), free throw attempts (4), rebounds (7), assists (3), blocks (3), steals (2) and minutes (32).