NIU Looks to Improve to 2-0 in MAC Play at Toledo

GO HUSKIES Junior Jenna Thorp
Junior Jenna Thorp

NIU-Toledo Notes Get Acrobat Reader

Jan. 8, 2014

Game 12 - vs Toledo (Toledo, Ohio)
Thursday, January 9 (10 a.m.)
Live Stats:
Radio: WLBK 98.9 FM, 1360 AM (Delay, 1 p.m.); NIUTube
Play-by-Play: Andy Garcia
Twitter: @NIUscores

Northern Illinois (5-6, 1-0 MAC) will hit the road Thursday, January 9 for a morning contest with the Toledo Rockets (5-7, 0-1 MAC). Tipoff is set for 10 a.m. at Savage Arena. The Rockets will be hosting Women’s Basketball Educational Day, inviting local elementary schools to watch the game.

Thursday’s contest will be the 44th meeting in the all-time series between NIU and Toledo with the Huskies trailing the Rockets, 27-16. The four-time reigning Mid-American Conference West Champions have won the last five in the series, including a meeting in the 2012 MAC Tournament Quarterfinals. Northern Illinois last defeated UT February 26, 2011 at the Convocation Center, 57-53. In last season’s first meeting at the Convo, the Huskies had a chance at the last shot but were unable to pull one off and fell to the Rockets, 44-42. Toledo averaged 65.6 points in the two game series in 2012-13.

The Huskies hosted Ohio in the Mid-American Conference opener at the Convocation Center Saturday, January 4. NIU entered the game 4-6 and winless in its last four conference openers, having last defeated Central Michigan January 7, 2009.

Northern Illinois trailed the Bobcats, 24-23, with five minutes remaining in the period but a Jazmine Harris layup 45 seconds later helped NIU regain the lead and never acquiesced. Northern Illinois led, 29-27, at halftime.

The Huskies went on the offensive in the second half, while also keeping their strong defensive grip on OU, outscoring their opponents, 47-24, in the half to defeat Ohio, 74-51. Five different Huskies reached double figures in the effort.

While Danny Pulliam led NIU scorers in the contest with 17 points, including four assists and zero turnovers, it was the freshmen that turned heads. Ally Lehman scoried 11 and grabbed 10 rebounds for her first career double-double and Jazmine Harris added15 points in 18 minutes on the court. Natecia Augusta put in a Rosie the Riveter type effort in the post, scoring 11 points and Amanda Corral closed the day with 12 points.

Toledo, the four-time reigning MAC West Champions, are 5-7 this season and 0-1 after its MAC opener loss against defending MAC Tournament Champion Central Michigan last Saturday, 84-71. The Rockets are on a three-game losing streak and last earned victory December 15 with a 64-62 win at St. Bonaventure. Over the Christmas holiday, UT dropped an 87-75 decision to Dayton on December 22 and followed with 90-80 loss at Evansville on the 30th.

UT has four players averaging 10-or-more points per game and almost a fifth in Janelle Reed-Lewis, who is averaging 9.3 points per outing. Inma Zanoguera leads Toledo in points and rebounds with 15.4 and 8.8 per game, respectively. Teammate Brianna Jones is not far behind Zanoguera with 11.6 points and 8.0 boards per contest. Andola Dortch is averaging nearly five assists per game and is scoring at a rate of 11.1 points per game.

The Rockets finished 2012-13 with a 29-4 record and a 15-1 mark in conference play. Toledo fell to eventual tournament champion CMU in the MAC Tournament semifinals, 66-61. UT would advance to the WNIT and win its first two games of the tournament before falling to Illinois in the Sweet 16, 63-55.

With 10 games under her belt this season, Jazmine Harris has started to put some of things together and the fruits of her labor are starting to show. Through the first eight games, the West Allis, Wis. native was averaging 3.1 points and 12.3 minutes per game. In her last two appearances versus Northern Iowa (December 21) and and Ohio (January 4), Harris averaged 15 points per game and 18.5 minutes. She scored 15 in each game and did so in 19 and 18 minutes, respectively. The frosh is now averaging 5.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game, shooting .479 from the field this season. While she was 6-of-10 against UNI, she improved and was 6-of-8 against Ohio. Over the last two games, Harris is shooting .667, going 12-of-18 from the field.

In its last two games, Northern Illinois has been spreading the wealth offensively, averaging 16.5 assists per game. Against UIC, the Huskies dished out a season-high 18 assists on 23 field goals. Last time out versus Ohio, in the MAC opener, NIU dished 15 assists on 26 field goals, aiding in the Huskies 74-51 victory.

Freshman Ally Lehman has been in a spectacular run of form the last two games, each of which has led to a double-digit scoring effort. In the last two games, Lehman is shooting a team-high .769 from the field and averaging 10.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. Versus UIC, Lehman was 5-for-7 from the field and scored 10 points. She followed up against Ohio in the conference opener and one upped her performance against the Flames, scoring a career-high 11 points and grabbing 10 rebounds on the defensive glass for her first career double-double.

Northern Illinois stepped its game up against Ohio as it held the Bobcats to 51 points, a season-low allowed by the Huskies. NIU also held the Bobcats to 14 field goals in the contest and only allowed them to shoot a 25 percent, both season-lows for opponents of NIU.

Northern Illinois shot with deadly accuracy in its Mid-American Conference opener against Ohio, making 26-of-49 shots for a final percentage of .531. NIU shot .481 (13-of-27) in the first half and nearly reached 60 percent in the second half as it made 13-of-22 shots (.591). The overall performance for NIU was a season-best for the Huskies, surpassing a .492 afternoon (32-for-65) versus Lamar in the Aggie Hotel Encanto Thanksgiving Classic on November 30 at New Mexico State. The last time NIU shot over 50 percent in a game, coincidentally, was at Ohio on February 6, 2013.

In their last three games, the Huskies have hit 76-of-159 shots taken, for a field goal percentage of .478 in that time. NIU’s lowest clip in that time frame was a .426 performance against Illinois-Chicago on New Year’s Eve. However, the Huskies went 1-2 in that span as Northern Iowa drained a backdoor layup with 2.7 seconds left on December 23 and UIC drained 27-of-31 attempts at the free throw line on December 31 to defeat the Huskies.

Playing an inspiring brand of basketball, Danny Pulliam has been one of the Huskies top-scorers in the last three games, averaging 13.3 points per contest, just behind Jazmine Harris’ 15.0. Pulliam led NIU across the board versus Ohio with a career-high 17 points, four assists, seven rebounds, zero turnovers and a steal. The Indianapolis, Ind. native scored 12 points against UNI and another 11 versus UIC. In the last three games, she’s also averaging 5.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists per contest. Pulliam is averaging 9.7 points and 3.3 assists per game through 11 appearances.

Natecia Augusta and Amanda Corral put up solid numbers against a stellar Toledo team last year. Corral averaged 9.5 points per game against the Rockets last year and Augusta scored 8.0 per outing, leading NIU in field goal percentage at a clip of .444. Satavia Taylor scored 14 points in the first meeting last year, shooting .455 from the field, but was unable to play in the second meeting as her senior season was cut short by injury shortly thereafter.

Northern Illinois has improved its shooting as a team at the free throw line the last three games, going 38-for-52 (.731) at the stripe. Compare that to its 78-of-112 (.696) performance in the previous eight games and NIU has improved its average by almost three full percentage points, or a difference of four more points at the line when taking the average of its previous eight games.

In the last three games, the Huskies are shooting 12 percent better than its opponents. Each team has taken an equal 159 shots in those games, however, it has been Northern Illinois has made more baskets, shooting 79-of-159 at a clip of .478.

The Huskies have led or tied their opponents in field goals over the last eight games. NIU has led in field goals in seven of the last eight as it only equaled South Dakota State on December 17.

NIU is hoping to improve to 2-0 in the Mid-American Conference for the first time since 2001. Under former Head Coach Carol Hammerle (1998-2005), Northern Illinois defeated both Marshall (Jan. 6, 66-56) and Eastern Michigan (Jan. 9, 68-56) to open the MAC unblemished. Director of Basketball Operations Stephanie Smith (2001-04) was a member of that team, then a freshman on the squad.

Five different NIU players scored in double-digits versus Ohio on January 4. Danny Pulliam (17), Jazmine Harris (15), Amanda Corral (12), Natecia Augusta (11) and Ally Lehman (11) all accomplished the feat, marking the first time the Huskies have done so since November 16, 2011 versus Western Illinois. Northern Illinois would go on to win 91-84 in double overtime and have six players reach double figures. Both Corral and Pulliam reached figures that night as well, scoring 10 and 12, respectively.

The Huskies have had improved success in the field goal department this season as they have converted 25-or-more baskets six times in 2013-14. In those games, NIU owns a 4-2 record. Last season, Northern Illinois only made 25-or-more baskets four times in 30 games played.

Northern Illinois will return home for a contest with Eastern Michigan  on Sunday, January 12 at the NIU Convocation Center. Tipoff is slated for 1 p.m. Central.



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