Jan. 12, 2008
DeKALB, IL -- Alumni games are more than mere scrimmages. These are virtual time machines, extended family reunions, muscle memory exhibitions, and reaffirmation of the college experience.
And---guess what?--- the 2008 Northern Illinois University / Varsity Club
Women's Alumnae Game was no different Saturday (January 12) morning in the Convocation Center. Sure, there had to be an obligatory final score. For the record, head coach Monique Bernoudy's short-handed Black alum unit prevailed by a 66-58 tally over the Red quintet. By any standard, all the Alums pulled off a classic.
With only five players available, Northern Illinois Black boasted four double-digit scorers---led by guard Stephanie Raymond's game-best 22 points. Black jumped into a 34-27 lead at intermission on the strength of an 11-point half by Sycamore product Kelly Miller Wright (1997-98) who finished the contest with 17 points. Not to be outdone, Hall of Fame guard Lisa Foss (1986-91) also produced 17 points and KeKe Williamson (2002-06) added 10 markers for the winners. Margaret Batteast (2005-07) kept the Red alums in the game with 10 points in the opening 20 minutes.
In a second half one-on-one duel of sorts, the 5-foot-5 Raymond (2003-07) and former Huskie All-America pick E. C. Hill (1991-94) both scored 13 points in the second half. Currently a student assistant coach under Carol Owens at NIU, Raymond canned two long-range three-pointers, three other baskets, and a foul shot in that span. The 5-6 Hill countered with one trey and five other buckets and helped rescue the Red unit from twin-digit deficits into a one possession game.
Batteast topped coach Karen Hand's Red team with 16 points, followed by Hill (1991-94) with 15 points and the ever-hustling Kris Weis Henning (1986-90) with 14 points and probably as many rebounds. Weis, a member of the 1989-90 Northern Illinois Hall of Fame quintet that went 26-5 and advanced two rounds into the NCAA Tournament, drove seven plus hours from Nebraska to DeKalb to visit the old alma mater and see "old" friends.
"You gotta go do these things," Weis said. "This is something to be proud of. It's great to be able to play in this game and see some former teammates. (There's the) same jokes and nicknames. I threw a few Iowa moves for Tammy (Hinchee, who was scheduled to play in the NIU Alumnae Game but sidelined with a sprained ankle)," Weis added with a grin. With hubby---former Northern Illinois football standoout Ted Hennings (1986-89)---and family in the stands, Weis played much bigger under the bucket than her listed 5-foot-4 height, thanks to numerous head fakes and up-and-under moves.
The Longest Journey Alumni Award must go to swingman Lindsey Secrest (2000-04) who drove 13 and a half hours from Atlanta for the Huskie alum contest and score three points for the Red team. "It's all about the game," Secrest said. "I really didn't play well, but it was an opportunity to play back here. It's like coming back to see family. Seeing everybody makes you remember all the good things."
Foss agreed. "It's fun running around with the other Huskie dogs," the program's all-time career scorer with 2,500 career points observed. "The biggest thing is this is family. You want to see everybody. The game means a lot, but it's nice to see old friends and faces. It kinda feels like home."
Ex-NIU guard Denise Lipnisky-McCance (1987-91) teaches and coaches at Wheaton Warrenville South High School. "The four years that I spent here were truly a fun and intense experience," she said. "It's definitely great to come back and keep up with former teammates and the current program. You want to come back."
The Alumnae Game featured four Northern Illinois Athletics Hall of Famers---Lipnisky-McCange and Weis from the 1989-90 quintet, plus individual inductees Foss and Hill. The exhibition also boasted four Huskie 1,000-point career scorers in Foss, Hill, Raymond, and Secrest. NIU women's athletics pioneers Dr. Mary Bell and Dr. Lou Jean Moyer served as honorary coaches.
Northern Illinois 2008 Alumnae Women's Basketball Game box score:
NORTHERN ILLINOIS BLACK (66)
Foss 7 3-3 17, Brown 0 0-0 0, Miller-Wright 8 0-0 17, Williamson 5 0-0 10, Raymond 8 2-3 22. TOTALS 28 5-6 66. THREE-POINT FGs 5 (Raymond, 4, and Miller-Wright 1).
NORTHERN ILLINOIS RED (58)
Moore 2 0-0 4, Lipnisky-McCance 0 0-0 0, Weis Hennings 5 4-6 14, Hill 7 0-3 17, Secrest 1 0-0 3, Batteast 7 0-0 16, Uptmor 2 2-4 6. TOTALS 24 6-10 58. THREE-POINT FGs, (Batteast 2, Hill 1, and Secrest 1).
---MIKE KORCEK, SID Emeritus