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



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

*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—