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DeKALB, Ill. - The Northern Illinois women’s basketball team (6-6, 0-0 Mid-American Conference) opens Mid-American Conference play, Wednesday on the road, as the Huskies face Toledo at 6 p.m. (CST) in the Savage Center. NIU is 5-7 is MAC openers since rejoining the conference for the 1997-98 season.
THE SERIES Northern Illinois is 14-20 against the Rockets since the teams first met in 1981. The Huskies are 4-12 at Toledo, but beat the Rockets in two of the last three road contests. Toledo won both games last season, with Naama Shafir leading the way with 17 points in each game.
ABOUT THE ROCKETS Toledo is one of two teams in the Mid-American Conference to enter league play with double-digit wins (Bowling Green, 10-4). The Rockets are 10-3 on the year, and have won seven of their last eight games. Five of those wins have been by double-digits.
The Rockets are lead by sophomore point guard Naama Shafir, a native of Hoshaya, Isreal, leads the team and ranks ninth in the MAC with 14.2 points per game. She is also averaging nearly seven assists per contest, second best in the conference. Tanika Mays is scoring 12.8 points per game, the 14th-best average in the MAC. Mays is also leading Toledo with 6.4 boards per contest, 10th-best leaguewide.
LAST TIME AGAINST TOLEDO In a game that saw 12 ties and 13 lead changes, the Northern Illinois University women’s basketball team fell to Toledo, 72-68.
With the score tied at 63-63 with 3:42 left to play, the 12th tie of the game, Toledo’s Naama Shafir drove the lane and made a layup to give the Rockets a two-point lead. One they would not relinquish. Shafir took over the game from that point on, scoring seven of Toledo’s final nine points, en route to a game-high 17 points.
The Huskies were within two, down 70-68 with 36 seconds left to play, but were unable to come up with a defensive stop on the final Toledo possession. Courtney Ingersoll scored on a layup, giving Toledo a four-point advantage with 20 seconds left to play.
The two teams were evenly matched offensively, with NIU out-shooting Toledo by the slightest margin, 48 percent to 47.5 percent. However, the Rockets shot better from three-point territory connecting on 57.1 percent of their shots, going 8-of-14 from beyond the arc, while Northern Illinois shot 43.8 percent from three-point land, hitting 7-of-16.
Turnovers and free throw shooting also plagued the Huskies. NIU committed 25 turnovers and went 13-for-20 from the free throw line, missing some free throws down the stretch.
Northern Illinois had three players finish in double digits with Marke Freeman leading the way with 16 points. Aileen Rossouw posted her second straight double double, the second of her career, with 15 points and a game-high 10 rebounds. Jessie Wilcox finished with 10 points.
ON THE AIR Every NIU basketball game of the 2009-10 season can be head on the Northern Illinois ISP Sports Radio Network. Women’s games can be heard on 1360-AM WLBK and Huskie All-Access at www.niuhuskies.com.
STRONG FINISHERS Northern Illinois has finished its last three games, all wins, in top fashion. The Huskies outscored Loyola by 10 in overtime. NIU followed by outdueling UIC by 16 points over the last nine minutes to win by seven. Most recently, the Huskies came back from 14 points down with 12 minutes remaining to beat Chicago State by five.
A NEW CAREER LEADER Kylie York, the lone senior for the Huskies, hit four three-pointers against Loyola to become the top three-point shooter in NIU history. York surpassed the previous NIU record of 221 career treys, held by Denise Dove since 1991, and now has 225 for her career. York holds the second and third slot for threes in a season. She hit 77 as a sophomore, knocked down 76 last season, and ranks third in the MAC with 26 makes this year.
AND A TOP SCORER Over the last three contests, Kylie York has doubled her scoring average from 7.0 to 13.7. Her three-point shooting percentage has also skyrocketed, going from 29 percent to 48 percent.
CREATIVE SIDE Marke Freeman has been creating for her teammates at a high rate over the last three games. After averaging 2.4 assists for the first nine games of the year, she’s dished out 18 assists in the last three match-ups. Her rebounding is also up, from 3.7 to 5.7 per game.
REIGNING SUPREME Ebony Ellis garnered MAC West Player of the Week honors, Dec. 22, after scoring a career-high 23 points and grabbing 18 rebounds as the Huskies defeated Loyola, 75-65 in overtime. The award is her second weekly honor of the season. Ellis was named the first MAC West Player of the Week of the 2009-10 season after recording 22 points and 17 rebounds in a win over Bradley.
TERRIFIC TRIUMVIRATE Northern Illinois is the only school in the Mid-American Conference to feature three scorers that rank in the league’s top-17. Marke Freeman ranks seventh at 15.1 points per game, followed by Ebony Ellis in 12th at 13.5, and Mauvolyene Adams is 17th with 12.0 ppg.
ILLINOIS ON MY MIND The Huskies played wrapped up non-conference play with three consecutive wins over in-state rivals. For the season, NIU played eight teams from Illinois, accumulating a 5-3 record with wins over Bradley, Southern Illinois, Loyola, UIC, and Chicago State.
NIU VERSUS THE STATE OF ILLINOIS Nov. 13vs. BradleyW, 86-73 Nov. 17vs. Western IllinoisL, 50-48 Nov. 22vs. Southern IllinoisW, 74-65 Nov. 28vs. No. 15 DePaulL, 78-67 Dec. 4at Illinois StateL, 85-57 Dec. 17at LoyolaW, 75-65 (OT) Dec. 29vs. UICW, 62-55 Jan. 3at Chicago StateW, 65-61
SHE GIVES... Marke Freeman dished out a season-best eight assists against UIC, demonstrating that her play-making ability goes well beyond scoring. She leads the Huskies with 3.3 assists per game, and has totaled 140 dimes in less than two seasons at Northern Illinois.
...AND TAKES Marke Freeman leads the MAC in steals with 2.9 per game. She set a career-high with eight steals at No. 24 Nebraska. The junior swiped three in the first half and five in the second period. The total is tied for the fifth-most in a game in NIU history. That record is currently held by Huskie head coach Carol Owens, who totaled 11 steals against Western Illinois in 1988. Over the last three games, she’s averaging 6.0 dimes.
THREE-FENSE Northern Illinois ranks second in the Mid-American Conference at defending the three-pointer. Huskie opponents have hit just 29.6 percent (58-of-196) of their downtown tries. Only Toledo has down better defending the three, allowing just 28.7 percent (68-of-237) from behind the arc. DOMINANT DUO The frontcourt duo of Mauvolyene Adams and Ebony Ellis is the best rebounding pair in the MAC. Ellis ranks third in the league at 10.9 per game, and Adams sits in fourth at 8.8 per contest. Together, their 19.7 rebounds per game is more than a per game more than the next closest duos in the MAC. Ball State’s Emily Maggert and Danielle Gratton average 18.3 and Buffalo’s Kourtney Brown and Brigdette Kendricks combine for 17.2.