Jan. 6, 2009
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DEKALB, Ill.- The Northern Illinois University women's basketball team opens Mid-American Conference play Wednesday night when the Huskies travel to Mt. Pleasant, Mich. to face of against Central Michigan at Rose Arena.
"Our players are excited about conference play," NIU head coach Carol Owens said. "We're looking forward to the challenge and know we are opening up against a very good team."
The Huskies (5-8) head into the conference opener winners of two of their three games and are looking to bounce back from a 76-68 loss to Chicago State. The Huskies had three players finish in double digits, with Ebony Ellis (Joliet, Ill./Joliet Township) leading the way with a career-high 18 points and grabbed a game-high eight rebounds.
Central Michigan (8-5) has also won two of its last three games, with the Chippewas posting a 95-88 victory over Morehead State Dec. 30, 2008 at the Cardinal Classic in Louisville, Ky. The Chippewas lead the MAC in scoring offense, averaging 81 points a game, but are last in the league in scoring defense allowing 75.6 points a game. CMU is playing very well at home, posting an unblemished 4-0 mark at Rose Arena.
Northern Illinois holds an 18-16 advantage over Central Michigan in the all time series, winning four of the last five contests. NIU is averaging 69.6 points a game against the Chippewas in the last five meetings, while holding Central Michigan to 59.8 points a game. Owens knows the Huskie defense will play a big role in this meeting.
"They are a great offensive team," she said. "They put up a lot of points. We have to have a good defensive performance and dictate the shots we want them to take versus the shots they want to take."
The two met last season only once, with NIU winning, 87-60, Jan. 15, 2008 at the Convocation Center. The game the two were scheduled to play Feb. 19, 2008 at Central Michigan last season was cancelled due the February 14th tragedy at NIU. Central Michigan's last victory came Feb. 17, 2007 when the Chippewas handed NIU a 73-61 loss at Rose Arena.
Tip off for the Huskies and Chippewas is set for 6 p.m. CST. Fans can follow all the action with Bill Baker on 1360 AM WLBK.