B-BALL'S BRONZE STALK
The Northern Illinois women's basketball team (6-7, 0-1 MAC) will open its Mid-American Conference home schedule against the defending league champion, Ball State (6-7, 1-0 MAC), Saturday at 3 p.m. in the Convocation Center.
The matinee will be "Kids Take Over the Convo," day, in which aspiring athletic professionals take to various jobs in the Convocation Center, including public address, reporting, and marketing. The Huskies will also host a free postgame clinic for kids in eighth grade and under in Victor E. Court.
On the gridiron, the match-up between these MAC West rivals is for the Bronze Stalk, a travelling trophy that NIU currently holds thanks to a 26-20 victory in November.
Ball State leads the all-time series 22-14, but NIU holds a 9-8 edge in games played in DeKalb. Last time in the Barb City, NIU handed Ball State one of only eight losses on its season, a 76-72 overtime decision.
The Cardinal's signature victory this season was an 86-80 victory over Illinois State, a perennial contender for the Missouri Valley Conference title.
A third-team All-MAC performer last season, forward Emily Maggert leads the Cardinals and ranks fourth in the conference with 17.8 points per game. She's one of just three players in the league to average a double-double, adding 11.5 rebounds per game. Audrey McDonald and Danielle Gratton are also scoring in double-figures for BSU, with 11.7 and 10.2 points per game, respectively.
ABOUT THE CARDINALS
Ball State enters Saturday's Mid-American Conference tilt after opening its league play with a 70-55 win over Western Michigan. The Cardinals are 6-7 on the year, and their win over the Broncos snapped a two-game losing streak.
LAST TIME AGAINST BALL STATE
NIU dropped a 65-54 decision to Ball State at Worthen Arena in the team's last meeting.
Leading 36-34 with 14:59 left to play, Ball State rattled off a 10-0 run to open up a 12-point lead with 12:08 left to play. The Huskies responded with a 6-0 stretch to cut the deficit to 46-40 with 8:44 left in the game. However, an 11-0 Cardinal run extended Ball State's lead to 57-42, its largest of the game, with 3:58 left in the contest.
A 10-2 run for Northern Illinois pulled the Huskies to within seven, 59-52, with 1:22 left to play. Unfortunately for NIU it was too little too late as the Cardinals were able to hold off the Huskie rally and walk away with the victory and the MAC West title.
Mauvolyene Adams was a force inside for the Huskies all game long. She scored a career-high 20 points, going 10-18 from the field and finishing with four rebounds. Then-senior Shari' Welton posted her second straight double digit scoring performance, finishing with 10 points.
The Huskies lost the battle on the boards, 43-36. Ball State took advantage of its trips to the free throw line, going 15-for-18 from the charity stripe. The Cardinals also capitalized on NIU's 12 turnovers, scoring 17 points off Huskie miscues.
ON THE AIR
Every NIU basketball game of the 2009-10 season can be heard 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.
Northern Illinois will play four of its next five and five of its next seven games in the Convocation Center. The Huskies will have to take advantage of their travel-friendly January MAC schedule. After five home games in the first month of 2010, the Huskies will play just three home contests through the season's end in early March.
The Huskies opened their MAC season with a five-point road loss to Toledo, the favorite to win the MAC West. Saturday, they will face the team picked to finish second in the division, and the defending MAC Tournament Champion in Ball State. NIU was tabbed third in the West in the preseason poll.
BALL STATE BEATERS
Northern Illinois was one of just eight teams to deliver a loss to Ball State last season. The Cardinals entered the Convocation Center undefeated in MAC play, but left with a four-point overtime loss attached to their record. Then-senior Jessie Wilcox led NIU with 20 points, including four three-pointers to help NIU to a 76-72 victory.
Northern Illinois finished its last three non-conference 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 left 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 233 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 fifth in the MAC with 32 makes this year.
Marke Freeman has been creating for her teammates at a high rate over the last four games. After averaging 2.4 assists for the first nine games of the year, she's dished out 27 assists in the last four match-ups. That total inclues a career-best nine-assist night against Toledo. Her rebounding is also up, from 3.7 to 5.8 per game.
Northern Illinois is the only school in the Mid-American Conference to feature three scorers that rank in the league's top-15. Marke Freeman ranks seventh at 15.6 points per game, followed by Ebony Ellis in 13th at 13.4, and Mauvolyene Adams is 15th with 12.3 ppg.