HUSKIES HOST BRONCOS
The Northern Illinois women’s basketball team (6-8, 0-2 Mid-American Conference) will be looking to bounce back from two close losses to open the Mid-American Conference season when it hosts Western Michigan (5-10, 0-2 MAC), Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Convocation Center. The game is sponsored by the Black Coaches & Administrators and Close the Gap, promoting heart health, with special attention to women and minorities.
Western Michigan leads the all-time series against NIU 24-16.With 40 contests, the Huskies have faced the Broncos more than any other opponent in school history.
The series dates back to 1969, when the Huskies won the first meeting 42-18. NIU won the first three in the series, and has won as many as four in a row, from 1997-2000.
ABOUT THE BRONCOS
Western Michigan will try and snap a three-game losing streak when they step onto the court, Tuesday. Miame Giden is leading three double-digit scorers with 15.8 points per game. She’s also one of five Broncos with more than 4.0 boards a contest with 5.3.
Behind Giden, Ebony Cleary averages 13.2 points with a team-best 7.3 rebounds, and Taylor Manley is scoring 11.5 per contest.
The Broncos and Huskies have had five common opponents this season. Both teams beat Loyola in overtime, and defeated Southern Illinois and Chicago State. WMU lost by 22 to UIC, a team Northern Illinois defeated by seven. Western Michigan also lost to Ball State by 15, while NIU fell in the last seconds of their game with the Cardinals, 64-62.
LAST TIME AGAINST WMU
The Huskies posted their first victory at Western Michigan since 1986, defeating the Broncos, 73-69, in a hard-fought game at University Arena.
Leading 71-69 with 13 seconds left in the game, Ebony Ellis, a 50 percent free throw shooter, was sent to the line and made two clutch free throws to give the Huskies a four-point lead and eventually the victory.
Down 56-46 with 9:33 left to play, the Broncos outscored the Huskies 21-12 during a seven-minute stretch to pull within one, 68-67 with 2:37 left in the contest. A layup by Ellis with two minutes to go gave NIU a three-point cushion, but Western’s Miame Giden made two free throws with 1:36 left to play to pull within one, 70-69.
Aileen Rossouw made the first of a one and one to give the Huskies a two-point lead with under a minute to play. A defensive stop by the Huskies effectively ended the Bronco threat and secured the victory. While the Broncos made a charge, the never led in the contest.
Senior Jessie Wilcox led the way for Northern Illinois, with 24 points, scoring 15 in the first half, tying her career high. Wilcox went 9-for-16 from the field and 4-for-4 from the free throw line. Shari’ Welton turned in her third straight double digit scoring performance finishing with 14 points.
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 fans can watch a live video stream of Tuesday’s game against Western Michigan online at www.niuhuskies.com through Huskie All-Access.
Northern Illinois has played Western Michigan more than any other team in program history. The two schools have met 40 times since first colliding in 1969. The Huskies and Broncos haven’t gone more than three seasons without playing each other. Northern Illinois has won the last three games in the series, but Western Michigan holds a 24-16 advantage overall.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: THE TRILOGY
Junior Marke Freeman was named MAC West Player of the Week, Monday, after averaging 27.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 4.0 steals per game. Freeman scored a career-high 33 against Ball State, and had 22 and a career-high nine assists at Toledo. With Ebony Ellis’ two Player of the Week selections, NIU has earned the honor three times in a season for the first time since rejoining the MAC in 1997-98. In MAC play, freeman leads the league in scoring (27.5), assists (6.0), and steals (4.0) per game. She also ranks fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.71 and 20th in rebounding at 5.5 per contest.
With Marke Freeman’s unmatched performance over the last two games earning MAC West Player of the Week, it’s easy to overlook the standout play of junior forward Mauvolyene Adams. But if Freeman was Player of the Week, Adams’ two double-doubles could have earned honorable mention. The Bolingbrook, Ill. native scored 21 points and grabbed 16 boards against Ball State, and had 16 points and 12 rebounds at Toledo.
Northern Illinois is in the midst of a home-heavy section of the 2010 schedule. NIU plays five of seven games at home from Jan. 9-30. 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 at home just three times through the regular season’s end in early March.
Marke Freeman has been creating for her teammates at a high rate over the last five games. After averaging 2.4 assists for the first nine games of the year, she’s dished out 30 assists in the last five match-ups. That total includes a career-best nine-assist night against Toledo. Her rebounding is also up, from 3.7 to 5.6 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 fifth at 16.9 points per game, followed by Ebony Ellis in 12th at 13.4, and Mauvolyene Adams is 15th with 12.9 ppg.
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.
ILLINOIS ON MY MIND
The Huskies wrapped up non-conference play with three consecutive wins over in-state rivals. For the season, NIU played eight teams from Illinois, accumulating a 5-3 record with wins over Bradley, Southern Illinois, Loyola, UIC, and Chicago State.
Marke Freeman dished out a season-best nine assists against Toledo, demonstrating that her play-making ability goes well beyond scoring. She leads the Huskies and ranks fifth in the MAC with 3.6 assists per game, and has totaled 150 dimes in less than two seasons at Northern Illinois.
Marke Freeman leads the MAC in steals with 3.1 per game. She set a career-high with eight steals at No. 24 Nebraska. The junior swiped three in the first half and five in the second period. The total is tied for the fifth-most in a game in NIU history. That record is currently held by Huskie head coach Carol Owens, who totaled 11 steals against Western Illinois in 1988.
Northern Illinois ranks second in the Mid-American Conference at defending the three-pointer. Huskie opponents have hit just 28.8 percent (67-of-233) of their downtown tries. Only Toledo has done better defending the three, allowing just 27.0 percent (76-of-282) from behind the arc.