Huskies Begin Two Game Road Swing at Central Michigan

GO HUSKIES Natecia Augusta reached double-figures in points for the ninth time this season versus Eastern Michigan.
Natecia Augusta reached double-figures in points for the ninth time this season versus Eastern Michigan.

Jan. 14, 2014

Game 14
Northern Illinois (6-7, 2-1 MAC) vs Central Michigan (7-8, 3-0 MAC)
Mt. Pleasant, Mich.
Wednesday, January 15 (6 p.m.)
Live Stats:
Radio: NIUTube (5:45 p.m. pregame)
Play-by-Play: Andy Garcia
Twitter: @NIUscores

Heading out on the road with a 2-1 record in the Mid-American Conference, Northern Illinois will begin a two-game road trip, starting with a Wednesday night showdown at Central Michigan. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.

Northern Illinois women’s basketball can be followed in a myriad of ways throughout the season. Audio of all of NIU’s games will be available for fans to listen to live and on on-demand (subscription required). Play-by-play man Andy Garcia, now in his third year, will be on the call for all of NIU’s games this season and is joined by former Huskie assistant coach Ethel Gregory during home games. Fans can also follow the team on Facebook and Twitter. Like “NIU Huskies” on Facebook and follow @GoHuskiesWBB and @NIUathletics on Twitter. Gameday updates and scores from all women’s basketball games can be followed on Twitter @NIUscores.

While Central Michigan has been one of the top-programs in the MAC over the years, Northern Illinois only trails CMU by two games in the series, 23-21. The Chippewas have taken the last four in the series and seven of the last 10. The Huskies last won February 16, 2011, when NIU won by a 14-point margin, 59-45. Northern Illinois last won at Central Michigan in the Huskies MAC opener January 7, 2009, 75-70. All-time in Mt. Pleasant, NIU is 8-13.

Northern Illinois returned home to the Convocation Center for its third MAC game of the season last Sunday with Eastern Michigan, a team the Huskies had not beaten since 2009. NIU scored the first basket of the game and after a 2-2 tie, the Huskies never looked back as they carried the lead for the rest of the game.

While leading 36-19 at halftime, the Huskies would score 41 points in the second half which marked the third-straight game that NIU scored 40-or-more points in the second half of a game this season. Northern Illinois defeated Eastern Michigan, 77-54, and held the Eagles to .295 shooting in the game.

Junior Amanda Corral had a career afternoon as she shot 10-of-16 from the field and 8-of-9 from the free throw line to score a new best of 30 points. She became the first Huskie since Marke Freeman in 2011 to score 30-or-more points in a game and rallied NIU to its first win over the Eagles since 2009. Off the bench, freshman Jazmine Harris scored 14 points in only 18 minutes, shooting 5-of-8 from the field and displaying incredible athleticism in the low post. Junior Jenna Thorp grabbed a game and career-high 13 rebounds off the glass.

Central Michigan holds a 7-8 overall record this season, but is 3-0 in the Mid-American Conference, with wins over Toledo (84-71), MAC East favorite Akron (109-83) and at Buffalo (82-68). The Chips have played one of the toughest schedules in the conference this year having played the likes of top-10 programs Kentucky and Duke, along with Kansas, Marquette, Notre Dame and Purdue.

The Chippewas are the No. 1 scoring team in the Mid-American Conference, averaging a clip of 84.3 point per game, including a mark of 91.7 points in their three MAC games. However, the Chips are second in field goal percentage in MAC games this season behind the Huskies, who are shooting .491 to CMU’s .470. While the Chips are averaging a high-volume of points, they are also surrendering 74.0 points per game.

Central Michigan has one of the top-players in the country in Crystal Bradford, who is averaging 20.1 points, 11.1 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game. Bradford has won MAC West Player of the Week honors four-times this season, including two-straight honors. Bradford was a member of Team USA at the World University Games, winning a gold medal with the squad and even scoring the game-winning basket in the semifinal round. Jessica Green is scoring at rate of 11.7 points per game and dishing 4.2 assists per outing. CMU has two other players, Jas’Mine Bracey and Niki DiGuilo, who are averaging double-figures this year as Bracey is scoring 10.3 points, while DiGuilo averages 14.7 points.

Northern Illinois junior Amanda Corral probably played her best week of basketball to date at NIU last week, as she scored over 20 points twice and shot .633 from the field, averaging 25.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.0 steals and only 1.5 turnovers per game. At Toledo last Thursday, Corral was 9-for-14 from the field, scoring 20 points and rallying the Huskies back within two points, after trailing by 17 in finals nine minutes of the game. Corral bested that performance three days later as she was 10-of-16 from the field and a career-best 8-of-9 from the free throw line to score 30 points, also a new best. What won’t show up on the stats was her defensive play as well as she helped keep four of Eastern Michigan’s five starters under their season scoring averages. EMU, who entered the game with a conference-best scoring average of 84.9 points per game, were held to a season-low 51 points.

The Huskies came out on the defensive January 12 versus Eastern Michigan as they started the game on an 13-2 run and later went on a 11-3 run in the first period. Northern Illinois only surrendered 19 points in the frame, tying its season-low at Illinois State December 5, and led by 11 at halftime, 30-19. The Huskies also created 10 turnovers and only allowed the Eagles to shoot .219 in the first half.

Freshman Ally Lehman has been on a spectacular run of form the last four games, scoring in double figures three times. Lehman is shooting a team-high .679 (19-of-28) and averaging 9.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists in that time. Versus UIC, Lehman was 5-for-7 from the field and scored 10 points. She one upped her performance against Ohio, scoring a career-high 11 points and grabbing 10 rebounds on the defensive glass for her first career double-double. She added 10 points at Toledo January 9 and would go on to score eight points against Eastern Michigan January 12.

With 12 games under her belt this season, Jazmine Harris has started to put some of things together and the fruits of her labor are starting to show. Through the first eight games, the West Allis, Wis. native was averaging 3.1 points and 12.3 minutes per game. Versus Northern Iowa (December 21) and Ohio (January 4), Harris averaged 15 points per game and 18.5 minutes. She scored 15 in each game and did so in 19 and 18 minutes, respectively. The frosh is now averaging 5.8 points and 3.4 rebounds per game, and shooting .459 from the field this season. While she was 6-of-10 against UNI, she improved and was 6-of-8 against Ohio. Over those two games, Harris was shooting .667, going 12-of-18 from the field. After being held to only two points at Toledo, Harris bounced back with a 14 point performance versus Eastern Michigan as she showcased her athletic moves under the basket to finish 5-of-8 from the field.

The Huskies are in the top-third of the Mid-American Conference in both scoring defense and offense, holding its opponents to 59.3 points (second) and scoring 74.0 points (fourth)  through three MAC games. With its style of play, this has resulted in NIU being No. 1 in te conference in field goal percentage and in defense as the Huskies are shooting .491 and only allowing opponents to average a clip of .329.

Junior Natecia Augusta’s exploits have been well documented as she has recorded three double-doubles for the Huskies with new career-highs in scoring and rebounding. So far this season, the Peoria, Ill. native and Limestone High School product has scored in double figures nine times in 13 starts. Her impact in games has been tremendous for Northern Illinois as it is 2-1 when she records a double-double and is 5-3 when she scores in double figures.

Redshirt junior Jenna Thorp attacked the ball off the rim January 12 versus Eastern Michigan, as she accounted for a career-high 13 rebounds. Thorp grabbed two off the offensive glass and 11 on the defensive glass in her first start of the 2014 calender year. It was the first time in the Hinckley, Ill. native’s career that she accounted for 10-or-more rebounds in a game as her previous best was a nine rebound effort against Western Illinois November 16, 2011.

Junior Danny Pulliam set a new career-high last time out versus Eastern Michigan as she stole four passes against the Eagles on January 12. The Huskies would go on to score 17 points off of turnovers in the game.

The Huskies are No. 1 in the MAC and 32nd in the NCAA in turnovers per game as NIU is only turning over the ball 13.7 times per game. Opponents are turning the ball over 14.2 times per game.

While Northern Illinois has done a great job of limiting the field goals in games, the Huskies have been even better at defending teams behind the arc. While NIU is only allowing teams to shoot .389 from the field, the Huskies are even better defending behind the arc as opponents are only shooting .271, the best mark in the MAC and 31st best clip in the NCAA.

Averaging 20.7 points per game in the first three games of the MAC season, Amanda Corral is second in the conference in scoring this season, behind Akron’s Rachel Tecca’s 24.1 points per game. Her lowest output in conference was a 12 point effort in the opener against Ohio, when four other player’s reached double-figures as well.

In the last four games Northern Illinois has executed offensively and defensively. In that time frame, NIU has shot 56-of-106 (.528) from the field and limited its opponents, UIC, Ohio, Toledo and Eastern Michigan to 30-of-99 (.303) from the field.

The Huskies will be back on the road once more as they head to Oxford, Ohio for a Saturday night contest at Miami (Ohio). Tipoff is slated at 1 p.m. on January 18.

The Last Meeting
Central Michigan82
Northern Illinois61
March 3, 2013
DeKalb, Ill.
NIU Women's Basketball Falls to Central Michigan
The NIU women's basketball team fell to Central Michigan, 82-61, in MAC West Division play at the Convocation Center Sunday afternoon.



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