Jan. 10, 2012
Northern Illinois Huskies (6-8, 0-2 MAC) at Ball State Cardinals (6-9, 1-1 MAC)
NIU-BSU Game Notes
Date: Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Tipoff: 6:00 PM CT
Location: Worthen Arena | Muncie, Ind.
Radio: WLBK 1360-AM DeKalb - Andy Garcia on the call (game will be live online on Huskie All-Access but tape-delayed on WLBK following the NIU men's basketball game)
Live Stats: BallStateSports.com
Northern Illinois plays its eighth road game of the year with its 40th all-time meeting with Ball State.
A Look at Ball State
Ball State enters the game as losers of six of its last nine games since winning three straight games. The Cardinals average 58.9 points per game and give up 64.7. They are shooting 38.0 percent from the field and allow opponents to shoot 41.4 percent. BSU features two scorers averaging double figures in Jazmin Hitchens (11.6) and Brittany Carter (10.1).
Last Time Versus Ball State
The two teams last met in Muncie last year on March 2, and the Huskies came out on top 49-46 to complete a season series sweep. NIU used a late 9-0 run to go from down four to up five. Marke Freeman led NIU with 19 points and blocked a potential tying three-pointer as time expired. Emily Maggert led BSU with 17 points.
Danny Pulliam underwent successful knee surgery on Dec. 8. Pulliam will be out for the season with a torn meniscus and microfracture surgery in her right knee.
Since playing her first game as a Huskie on Dec. 11 at Chicago State, junior Loyola-transfer Satavia Taylor has found her comfort zone lately. Over the last four games, she has scored in double figures three times, averaging 12.5 points per game. In her last two games, she has produced a career-best and team-high 17 and 14 points, respectively. Prior to the last four games, her season scoring average was at 7.3 and is now at 9.9.
All Over the Court
Over the last five games, senior guard Courtney Shelton has logged at least 31 minutes in each game for a 33.8 average. Her 39 minutes played at Eastern Michigan were a career high.
Mini Road Trips
The EMU-BSU trip marks the first of only two stretches in which NIU will play two straight road games during MAC play. The other trip will have NIU at Central Michigan on Feb. 22 and Toledo on Feb. 25 to wrap up the MAC regular season slate. The road layout is a far cry from last year's schedule that featured a trio of three-game-or-more road trips, including starting the season with 10 of the first 11 games away from home.
Chips in the Defense
In the seven games prior to Thursday's loss to Central Michigan, the NIU defense had held every opponent under 38.3 percent shooting and had not given up more than 72 points. The Chippewas ended the dominant defensive run by shooting 51.6 percent and scoring 86 points. The percentage was the highest NIU had given up since letting Illinois State shoot 52.9 percent on Nov. 26. The points were the most NIU had given up all year.
Entering MAC Play Last Year
NIU was 6-7 last season and had lost four of their last six games before heading into league play. This year, NIU was 6-6 through non-conference play and had won four of its last seven games.
After having surgery to repair a torn meniscus in her left knee on Dec. 8, sophomore Ashley Sneed is fully healthy and got her feet wet again with three minutes of action on Thursday against Central Michigan. She then played 20 minutes versus Eastern Michigan, totaling four points, three assists, two rebounds, and one steal. Prior to missing the six games before that, Sneed was averaging a career-best 6.2 points per game and had career-high scoring games of 12 (at Loyola) and 14 (at Illinois State) points.
Three scorers reached double-figures last Thursday at Eastern Illinois, which marked the fourth time this season that NIU has had three or more players score 10-plus points. Courtney Shelton led the way with a season-high 22. Satavia Taylor and Claire Jakubicek each added 11.
NIU has won back-to-back games three different times this season already. Last year, NIU accomplished the feat three times all year.
In NIU's 47-43 win over Indiana State, Kim Davis and Amanda Corral combined for 31 of NIU's 47 points, including all nine points of NIU's 9-0 run to open the game. The two also scored the last 16 points for NIU to close out the win. Davis' 16 were a season high, while Corral notched 15 for the second straight game.
Foes' Friendly Rims
NIU has found it easier to shoot on the road than at home as the Huskies have posted a 39.8 field goal percentage on the road compared to a 36.6 mark at home.
Home Court Advantage
The Huskies are 4-3 at home this year and are holding opponents to just 59.1 points per game, as opposed to the 64.9 points per game NIU allows on the road. NIU has also held opponents to a .352 field goal percentage at home, compared to a .404 percentage on the road.
Courting the Three-Point Line
As of Jan. 8, the Huskies rank second in the MAC in three-point field goal percentage at .359, led by Courtney Shelton's league-fifth-best .381 percentage. Helping her percentage was a season-best 5-for-7 performance at Indiana Dec. 17. Her 21 threes made are good for ninth in the league.
As of Jan. 8, NIU ranks third in the MAC in opponent field goal percentage (.377). The Huskies are 6-4 when holding opponents under 40 percent shooting and are 4-2 when outshooting their foes. The Huskies also rank fourth in the MAC in scoring defense (62.0 PPG).
With rebounding margin of +3.5, NIU ranks fourth in the MAC and 86th in the NCAA, as of Jan. 8. The Huskies have outrebounded their opponents 10 times this year and are 6-4 when doing so.
The Right Touch
As of Jan. 8, freshman Claire Jakubicek ranks ninth in the MAC in field goal percentage (.455). Her 21-point, 8-rebound, 5-assist performance at Chicago State was the first 20-point, 5-rebound, 5-assist game since Marke Freeman tallied 24 points, 10 assists, and six rebounds on Feb. 20, 2010, against Toledo.
An indication of a deep team, the Huskie bench has been outstanding through the early part of this season. NIU owns a 305-150 edge in points off the bench over its opponents. The only three games NIU's bench has not outscored its opponent's bench is the Illinois Chicago (16-8), Eastern Illinois (18-11), and DePaul (13-11) games, and all three resulted in losses.
Double-Double on the Marke
Amanda Corral's 16-point, 10-rebound double-double against Temple was the first by an NIU guard since last year's leading scorer Marke Freeman poured in 23 points and 17 boards in a 56-48 win at Ohio on Jan. 1, 2011.
Corral repeated the feat at Indiana Dec. 17 with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Corraling MAC West Player of the Week
In just her first seven days of collegiate action, freshman Amanda Corral has already caught the MAC's attention, garnering MAC West Player of the Week on Nov. 21st. Corral led NIU to a 2-0 record by averaging 13.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game.
Percent of Production Returning
The Huskies return seven players from last year, including three starters in Kim Davis, Danny Pulliam, and Courtney Shelton, and welcome seven newcomers. In terms of production, NIU returns 64 percent of its minutes, 49 percent of its points, 45 percent of its rebounds, 71 percent of its assists, 44 percent of its blocks, and 53 percent of its steals.
Bennett's Year 2 Success
In Year 2 of each of her three prior head coaching stops throughout her career, Bennett has posted a combined win-loss total of 44-38. Her Year 2 win total has been an increase from Year 1 in two of the three stops. Indiana was the only place she did not have an increase, as she led the Hoosiers to 17 wins after totaling 20 in her first season in Bloomington.
Throughout her career, Bennett has faced all 23 of NIU's 2011-12 opponents and holds a 49-45 record against them.
NIU Picked to Finish 4th in MAC West
The Mid-American Conference coaches and select media chose the Huskies to finish fourth in the West Division this year in the MAC Preseason Poll.
Huskies Ink Three on Signing Day
On signing day on Nov. 9, NIU received National Letters of Intent from forward McKenzie Hoelmenn (Lakeville, Minn./Lakeville North), guard Alexis Lindstrom (Howards Grove, Wis./Howards Grove), and forward Nichole Wittman (Hutchinson, Minn./Hutchinson), Hoelmenn is Max Preps' No. 3 player from Minnesota and No. 87 player in the nation. Max Preps ranks Wittman and Lindstrom No. 41 and No. 133 in their respective states.
For the fourth straight year, NIU's Graduation Success Rate (GSR) topped the 80 percent mark. With an 82 percent GSR, the Huskies sit two points above the four-class national average. The women's basketball team is one of four NIU programs to post a perfect 100 percent GSR as every freshman and transfer student-athlete who entered NIU between 2001-04 graduated.
NIU on TV
On Sunday, Jan. 8, 2012, NIU's contest at Eastern Michigan was televised by the Mid-American Conference's regional cable partner SportsTime Ohio. The game will be NIU's only scheduled regular season TV appearance.
On the Air
Every NIU basketball game of the 2011-12 season can be heard on the Northern Illinois Sports Network, Presented by IMG. Women's games home and away can be heard on 1360-AM WLBK and Huskie All-Access at NIUHuskies.com. Home games can also be watched live through Huskie All-Access. Andy Garcia and Ethel Gregory will be on the call.
Up Next for NIU
The Huskies return home to face Toledo on Saturday, Jan. 14, at 1 PM CT. The NIU men's basketball team will play Central Michigan 30 minutes after.