Northern Illinois Women's Basketball Rallies for MAC Road Victory Over Central Michigan

GO HUSKIES
GO HUSKIES

GO HUSKIES

January 11, 2006

Northern Illinois Women's Basketball Rallies for MAC Road Victory Over Central Michigan (1/11)

MT. PLEASANT, MI ---Clipboard from OfficeMax in DeKalb: $9.99.

Packet of markers from OfficeMax: $1.29.

A Mid-American Conference road win at Central Michigan University: Priceless.

First-year Northern Illinois University women*s basketball coach Carol Owens may even consider upping her supplies budget if necessary after Wednesday night*s 59-57 thriller which gave the NIU women their first *road* victory of the season * not counting an earlier neutral site triumph. Of course, it came at the expense of her coaching clipboard

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*In the last 30 seconds it got a little intense. Perhaps I need to break more clipboards,* the two-time NIU Athletics Hall of Famer quipped. *I guess I just wanted this win so bad for this team. These ladies have worked so hard and they*ve been so diligent. It*s really great to see them get this reward.*

The Huskies, who improved to 5-8 overall and 1-1 in the MAC, trailed by as many as nine early in the second half before an 11-2 run created the first of five ties in the second half alone. Overall, the game would feature nine total ties and 17 lead changes --- 11 of which came in the final 20 minutes with Stephanie Raymond (Rockford / Lutheran) knotting the game at 57-all with 1:58 to play off her fourth three-pointer of the game. After Northern Illinois regained possession and used a pair of 30-second timeouts --- including the clipboard breaker --- Raymond drove the baseline and double-pumped the Chippewas* Casey Manning into a foul.

With 10.2 seconds left to be played, Raymond made the first of a one-and-bonus and then added the second for a 59-57 lead. Having committed only four fouls, NIU used two of those to whittle time down after Central Michigan would inbound the ball. The hosts got a final shot off with 2.7 seconds that simply drew iron.

*I knew we just needed a basket and that we didn*t need a three-pointer, so I looked for an opportunity to drive and got the foul,* Raymond explained. *We practice a lot of pressure free throws, so it wasn*t a big deal.*

Apparently, neither is scoring a career-high 24 points. Raymond equalled her career hallmark for the third time within the last five games and also for the sixth time in her career.

*A lot of the credit ahs to go to my teammates. They would drive and that created a lot of outside shots for me,* Raymond noted. *I was just trying to create offensive opportunities either for them or myself.*

The 5-5 junior enjoyed a stellar night as she included 4-of-5 shooting from beyond the arch within a 7-of-14 overall night from the floor along with a perfect 6-for-6 at the charity stripe. Teammate Mary Basic (Lemont / Chicago Heights Marian Catholic) registered her third consecutive double-figure performance with 11 while Kristin Wiener (Apple Valley, MN / Academy of Holy Angels) just missed a double-double with 10 points and a game-best nine rebounds in helping the Huskies outboard CMU 34-32.

Another key factor for Northern Illinois was returning the turnover tally to the mid-teens with 15 in contrast to Central Michigan*s 16. In a MAC-opening loss at Eastern Michigan University, NIU*s 22 turnovers were a major factor as the host Eagles outscored the Huskies 31-14 in points off turnovers.

*Taking care of the ball was essential for ths game,* Owens said. *We also needed to execute our offense better and continue to rebound well in order to be successful. We really needed a road win and they*re especially great to get in the conference. After they lost up here in double overtime last year, our ladies really wanted this game very badly.*

Central Michigan, which began the year with six straight wins and was the hottest women*s team in the league early on, slipped to 9-4 with the loss and 0-2 for MAC play. Sharonda Hurd scored a team-best 17 points with 15 from Ann Skufca and 10 more from Chasidy Myers.

The Chippewas used back-to-back lay-ups from Manning and Hurd to close out a see-saw first-half with a 23-19 lead. CMU was able to bump that margin up to nine, 32-23, just 2:26 into the second half. But then came the Huskie comeback.

*We told them that (nine-point lead) was their run. We reminded them of how we always say basketball is a game of runs and the key is how you handle your opponent*s runs,* Owens explained. *We obviously handled it well. We fought back into a tie and then kept answering them until we got to the end. In the first half, we jut needed to settle down. Steph did a great job leading the team both creating shots for others and for herself. Getting the ball in Steph*s hands was crucial as was hitting our free throws.*

Northern Illinois returns home to the Convocation Center on Saturday for its initial MAC home game as the Huskies welcome the University of Toledo for a 2:05 p.m. contest. The Rockets, who took two out of three meetings last season, ended NIU*s season with a 76-61 loss at UT*s Centennial Hall in the first round of the Mid-Am Postseason Tournament.

(For further information, please contact Steve Nemeth) —NIU—