Raymond Paces Balanced Attack in Huskie Women's Basketball's First Back-to-Back Victories



January 4, 2006

Raymond Paces Balanced Attack in Huskie Women's Basketball's First Back-to-Back Victories

DeKalb, IL --- With Stephanie Raymond equalling her career high of 24 points for the fifth time, the Northern Illinois University women*s basketball squad posted back-to-back victories for the first time this season with a 73-64 triumph over Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) Wednesday (Jan. 4) night.

Raymond (Rockford / Lutheran) * who also chalked up 24 points for the second time in the last three contests --- topped a quartet of double-figure scorers to help the Huskies improve to 4-7 after having just claimed the consolation title of the Florida International University Fun & Sun Classic with a 69-56 triumph over Coppin State University. IPFW*s Mastadons, now in a fourth year as a Division I independent program, saw their record slip to 2-10.

*I was really excited for the first 30 minutes, but then I thought we had a letdown and gave up some second-chance baskets, but overall I*m pleased with the win,* NIU coach Carol Owens said. *We*ve improved quite a bit over our last three or four games. You look at the stats and our turnovers have come down. In the first half we had only five, we ended up with 17, but we*re improving. Our offensive execution is looking better and once again we outrebounded our opponent. Those are all indications that we know what we*re looking for offensively and that*s making it able for us to score more.*

After the visitors started off with a 1-0 lead, Northern Illinois ran off 10 straight points and raced out to a 23-8 advantage midway through the opening half. The Huskies built the margin up to 19 at intermission on a three-pointer for a 41-22 lead. Four minutes into the second half, NIU took its largest lead of 27, 53-26, on a Jessie Wilcox (Oshkosh, WI / West) lay-up. Northern Illinois enjoyed 20-point plus margins until the final three and half minutes. A last basket by IPFW accounted for the game*s final nine-point tally.

*We knew IPFW would come in and be aggressive, so we*d just have to follow our gameplan that we*d gone through in practice, come out and play solid defense and execute on offense so that we could come out on top and we did,* Raymond explained.

The junior, who sandwiched a 21-point performance against Coppin State between the 24-point outings versus FIU and IPFW, hit 9-of-18 from the floor, including 3-of-9 three-pointers, plus 3-of-5 free throws to account for her point total which was followed by game highs for rebounds (eight), assists (nine) and steals (three).

*Coach has been on me about my assist to turnover ratio, so to have nine assists, it*s great,* Raymond said. *I still have to cut down on my turnovers as the point guard. We*re becoming a lot more comfortable with our offense and I think it shows on the court with everyone*s contributions.*

In addition to Raymond*s fourth 20-point performance of the season, the Huskies had four double-figure scorers for the second time this year. Jennifer Uptmor (Centerville, OH) --- who returned to the starting line-up with Nikita Odom (Hazel Crest / Country Club Hills Hillcrest) being sidelined by the flu --- came up with a career-high 12 piints which was matched by Wiener (Apple Valley, MN / Academy of the Holy Angels). Wilcox nearly doubled her previous career best with her initial double-figure performance of 11 which featured a 3-for-3 shooting night, including a three-pointer, plus a perfect 4-of-4 at the charity stripe.

*Jessie*s really improving and we*re consistently getting better contributions from more players. Kacia (Gillette --- Roscoe / Rockton-Hononegah) has done well lately, hit some big shots against Coppin State. Becky (Smith * Janesville, WI / Parker) has provided some instant scoring and gotten us some defensive rebounds,* Owens added.
IPFW*s lone double-figure scorer was standout guard Johnna Lews-Carlisle, who overcame a 1-for-10 first half to finish with 23 points by hitting 8-of-13 over the final 20 minutes. Teammate Starla Williams was next with eight points and a team-high six boards as the Mastadons were outrebounded 45-32.

*I was extremely impressed with Northern Illinois* execution,* IPFW interim head coach Chris Paul said. *We had a couple of films and knew about Raymond and (Kristin) Weiner, and knew what they could do, but we didn*t anticipate their execution of the screen and roll, and having someone filling the back side so well to score easy buckets. I was extremely impressed by NIU there. On the other hand, I was extremely disappointed in the effort that our players gave early on.

*When you find yourself down 21 after one half, that*s a pretty big hill to come back from. However, I felt our kids battled all the way to the end and never gave in. The score ends up a little closer than it should have been, but that*s a credit to our kids not giving up,* Paul insisted.

Northern Illinois, which was playing only its fourth home game of the season, returns to the road to open Mid-American Conference play at 6 p.m. (CST) on Saturday (Jan. 7) at Eastern Michigan University. That*s followed by a Wednesday (Jan. 11) 6 p.m. visit to Central Michigan University.

(For further information, please contact Steve Nemeth) —NIU—