DeKALB - The Northern Illinois women's basketball (7-8, 1-2 MAC) team looks to even its Mid-American Conference record with a trip to Ypsilanti, Mich. to face Eastern Michigan (12-3, 2-1 MAC), Saturday at 1 p.m. (CST).
Eastern Michigan holds the edge in the all-time series, 22-8. The teams split two match-ups last year, with each squad winning on its home floor. In Ypsilanti, the Eagles have gone 11-3 since the series began in 1981.
ABOUT THE EAGLES
Eastern Michigan enters Saturday's contest with a 12-3 record. The Eagles hold the third-best record in the MAC, behind only Toledo (13-3) and Bowling Green (13-4). The Eagles had won seven straight before a 72-63 road loss at Toledo ended their streak. EMU's other losses have come to Temple (64-46) and No. 5/6 Notre Dame (69-59).
The Huskies will have to contend with the top scorer in the Mid-American Conference, guard Tavelyn James. The sophomore is scoring 20.9 points per game, and poured-in a career-high 39 against Rochester. James isn't the only scoring threat for the Eagles. EMU has two other players, Cassie Schrock and De'Ja Wills, with 20-point games on their résumés. Schrock is the only other Eagle that averages in double-figures with 11.4 points per game.
LAST TIME AGAINST EMU
Turnovers and poor free throw shooting cost the Northern Illinois University women's basketball as they suffered a 53-49 setback on the road to Eastern Michigan at EMU's Convocation Center.
The Huskies (13-12, 8-4) shot 53.8 percent from the free throw line, going 7-of-13 from the charity stripe, while the Eagles (7-17, 3-9) went 12-of-17 from the free throw line, shooting 70.6 percent. NIU committed 21 turnovers, and the Eagles capitalized, scoring 22 points off of Huskie miscues.
Down 32-20 at the break, NIU opened the second half with an 11-2 run to close to within three with 13:23 left in the game. After a pair of Amber Land free throws pushed the EMU lead back to five, Aileen Rossouw made a layup and Marke Freeman stole an EMU pass and dished it to Becky Smith who made another layup and was fouled on the play. Smith completed the three-point play to tie the game at 36 with 12:13 left in the game.
On the ensuing NIU possession, she collected an offensive rebound off a missed Kylie York three pointer and made the put back to give the Huskies a 38-36 lead. However, the Huskies were unable to pull away. The two teams traded leads three more times, before the Eagles' Cassie Schrock gave EMU the lead for good when she made a layup to give Eastern Michigan a 49-47 lead with 3:49 left to play.
One of the bright spots for NIU was its bench play. Northern Illinois's bench out-scored Eastern Michigan's reserves 29-18. Rossouw came off the bench to post her first career double double with a team-high 13 points and game-high 10 rebounds. Smith and Freeman turned in solid performances as well, with Freeman finishing with nine points, three rebounds and three steals and Smith ending the game with seven points and five rebounds.
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 online at www.niuhuskies.com through Huskie All-Access.
The Huskies put together their best defensive performance of the season against Western Michigan. Northern Illinois held the Broncos to just 47 points, and 33.3 percent shooting from the field. WMU scored only 23 first half points, and mustered just 24 in the second. It was the lowest point total by an NIU opponent since holding Western Illinois to 45, Dec. 7, 2006.
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 in the last three games 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. Against Western Michigan, she scored 14 on a career-best 7-of-12 shooting from the field.
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 Eastern Michigan game is the only road contest during the stretch. 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 six games. After averaging 2.4 assists for the first nine games of the year, she's dished out 36 assists in the last six match-ups. That total includes a career-best nine-assist night against Toledo. Her rebounding is also up, from 3.7 to 5.2 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 17.3 points per game, followed by Ebony Ellis in 14th at 13.4, and Mauvolyene Adams is 15th with 13.0 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. In league play, she is tied for first in the MAC in assists per game with Toledo's Naama Shafir, each with 6.3.
Marke Freeman leads the MAC in steals with 3.0 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 27.9 percent (69-of-247) of their downtown tries. Only Toledo has done better defending the three, allowing just 26.6 percent (81-of-304) from behind the arc.
The frontcourt duo of Mauvolyene Adams and Ebony Ellis is the best rebounding pair in the MAC. Ellis ranks third in the league at 10.4 per game, and Adams sits in fifth at 9.3 per contest. Together, their 19.7 rebounds is two more than the next closest duo in the MAC. Ball State's Emily Maggert and Danielle Gratton average 17.0.
Not including the two freshmen, six Huskies have registered career-highs for points this season. Marke Freeman scored a career-high 33 against Ball State, the fourth time this season she has set a new career-high. Other Huskies with career-highs include Ebony Ellis (23, vs. Loyola), Mauvolyene Adams (22, vs. SIU), Sarah Rogers (8, at Milwaukee), and Tenisha Wilson (10, at Milwaukee), and Courtney Shelton (9, at IUPUI).
MORE ON DOUBLE DIPS
The frontcourt combination of Ebony Ellis and Mauvolyene Adams has totaled 13 double-doubles in 15 games this season. Adams has totaled eight, while Ellis registered at least 10 and 10 in five contests. Adams ranks 12th in the country and is tied for first in the MAC with Buffalo's Kourtney Brown and Ball State's Emily Maggert in double-doubles this season.
MOST IMPROVED HUSKIE
After playing in just 13 games her freshman season, averaging 3.5 minutes per appearance, Courtney Shelton has broken out in her sophomore season. Shelton, who earned a place in the starting line-up with her preseason play, ranks fifth on the team in minutes per game with 26.2, and has started in each of the first 15 games. She's scored a career-high nine points twice. In her last game, she dished out five assists to go with seven assists and seven rebounds.
The Huskies' loss to Ball State was their only their second game decided by two points or less in 49 games. That figure is despite having played five OT games in which the Huskies went 4-1.