Jan. 22, 2014
vs Buffalo (DeKalb, Ill.)
Thursday, January 23 (7 p.m.)
Live Stats: NIUHuskies.com
Radio: WLBK 98.9 FM; 1360 AM; NIUTube (6:45 p.m. pregame)
Play-by-Play: Andy Garcia
NIU HOSTS BUFFALO; SEEKS THIRD MAC WIN AT HOME
The NIU women's basketball team will host Buffalo Thursday night at the Convocation Center, seeking its third-straight Mid-American Conference win at home and its second-consecutive win after defeating Miami on the road. The January 23 contest is set for 7 p.m. Central.
SET YOUR DVR
The Huskies game at Bowling Green Sunday, January 26 at 1 p.m. Central will be live on Time Warner Cable Sports, BCSN, ESPN3 and ESPN's Full Court package. It will be replayed on tape delay in Chicagoland on Comcast Chicago at 3 p.m.
FOLLOW THE HUSKIES ALL SEASON LONG
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.
FREE PARKING FOR ALL HOME BASKETBALL GAMES
The NIU Convocation Center will offer free parking for all basketball home games this season. Fans are asked to park in the C-2 and C-3 parking lots. For more details on other changes to gameday and to view a detailed parking map of the area, visit NIUHuskies.com.
THE HUSKIES AND THE BULLS
The series between Northern Illinois and Buffalo is the Huskies youngest against Mid-American Conference foes as Thursday's meeting will be the 19th meeting all-time. NIU owns a 13-5 lead in the series, but has lost the last three meetings to the Bulls. This season is quite unique for Northern Illinois as it is the first time the two teams will meet twice in the regular season. In 2012-13, NIU and UB met once in the regular season and once more in the postseason with the Bulls taking both contests. The Huskies last played the Bulls in the first round of the MAC Tournament, but it was Buffalo who advanced to Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena for the final rounds of the tournament with a 56-46 victory.
LAST TIME OUT
The Huskies hit the road for a second straight trip, making a six hour trek to Miami (Ohio) for a Saturday afternoon contest at Millett Hall. While NIU entered the game with confidence after a narrow, five point defeat at Central Michigan on January 15, it was Miami who came out as the aggressor, leading the Huskies for the entire first half. NIU put in a solid effort, however, the Redhawks three-point shooting (5-of-12) pushed MU to a 34-27 lead in the first stanza.
NIU rolled up its sleeves in the second period, as its defense limited Miami to only eight field goals in the period, three of which came from behind the arc. The Huskies took their first lead of the game with 13:42 remaining in the game and eventually traded the lead six more times, but, earned the victory, 69-66.
Amanda Corral posted her third effort 20 point effort in five MAC games with a 24 point afternoon in Oxford. She was 8-of-17 from the field and a career-best 4-of-6 from behind the three-point line. Danny Pulliam scored 16 points and was one rebound shy of her first career double-double as she posted nine. Ally Lehman tied her career-high with 11 points in the afternoon, tying her best-previous effort on a free throw with 0.3 seconds left in the game.
SCOUTING THE BULLS
Buffalo is 9-7 this season with a 2-3 mark in the Mid-American Conference thus far. After opening 0-3 in conference play, the Bulls have stormed back over the last two games to defeat Toledo, 51-46, and Eastern Michigan, 84-83, in overtime. Earlier this season, UB defeated Pittsburgh, 66-62.
The Bulls heighth has been a plus for them this season as they lead the conference in blocks at 72, an average of 4.5 per game. Christa Baccas leads the team in blocks with 38 (2.4 BPG), while averaging 8.3 points per game and 8.9 rebounds per game. Mackenzie Loesing, the reigning MAC East Player of the Week, averages 16.5 points, No. 1 on the Bulls squad, while also averaging 2.7 steals per outing. Kristen Sharkey leads the squad in rebounding (9.1) and is second in scoring at a clip of 13.1 points per game.
MIDSEASON STOCK REPORT
Northern Illinois has played 15 games this season and currently owns a record of 7-8 with a register of 3-2 in the Mid-American Conference. Last season through 15 games, the Huskies were 5-10 and were winless in the MAC with an 0-2 mark. NIU is scoring 7.0 more points, grabbing 5.0 more rebounds and turning the ball 4.0 less times per game than last season.
FIRST MAC ROAD WIN
The Huskies won their first MAC game on the road last Saturday at Miami, 69-66, to push NIU over .500 in conference play at 3-2. Northern Illinois has lost by a combined seven points in conference games this year, falling at preseason favorites Toledo (73-71) and Central Michigan (65-60).
HIGH PERCENTAGE FOR AUGUSTA
Northern Illinois junior Natecia Augusta is second in the Mid-American Conference this season in field goal percentage at a clip of .550 in 2013-14. Augusta, who is 61-fo-111 from the field, is trailing Buffalo's Christa Baccas average of .574, however, Baccas has taken 17 fewer shots in one more game than Augusta (16).
RAISING SKYSCRAPERS IN OXFORD
The Huskies had quite a showing at Miami January 18 as NIU blocked six of the Redhawks 48 shots, three of which were stopped by Natecia Augusta - a new career-high for the junior. It was the first time since February 7, 2009 at Kent State that Northern Illinois accumulated six blocks in a game. The Huskies lost in Kent that day, 67-50.
SHE'S ON FIRE
Junior Amanda Corral has been scoring at an incredible rate since the start of Mid-American Conference play, averaging 19.2 points per game in the last five NIU games. She's scored in double-digits in each of NIU's conference games and owns the fourth-best average in the MAC behind Akron's Rachel Tecca (22.2) and Hanna Luburgh (19.6), and Central Michigan's Crystal Bradford (19.6). In that time, she has scored 20-or-more points on three different occasions, including a career-high 30 point performance versus Eastern Michigan on January 15.
WHERE THEY RANK
Both Amanda Corral and Danny Pulliam are ranked in the top-250 in the NCAA in their own respective statistical categories. Corral is 145th in the country in field goal percentage, an impressive feat for a guard, with a clip of .463, 193rd in points per game with 15.5 and 247th in free throw percentage at .769. Pulliam is 67th in assist/turnover ratio at 1.96. For a complete ranking of the Huskies statistically in the MAC and the NCAA, turn to page nine of the notes.
THE HUSKIES GOT HANDLES
Northern Illinois has been amongst the top-50 in the NCAA for most of the season in fewest turnovers per game. Currently, the Huskies are No. 30 in the country and No. 1 in the Mid-American Conference in turnovers per game at 13.7 per game. The Huskies are averaging just over 59 field goal attempts per game and by adding 14, the number the turnovers, NIU is averaging 73 possessions a game. Putting that into context, Northern Illinois is only committing a turnover every 5.3 possessions.
REJUVENATED BEHIND THE ARC
Over the last two games at Central Michigan and Miami, the Huskies have been hot behind the arc, shooting 15-of-39 (.385). Now averaging .295 behind the three-point line, NIU started last week's road trip only shooting .270. Since the start of MAC play, the Huskies are second in the conference in three point average at .355 (22-of-62), trailing Ball State by only 3.3 percent.
THE TOP IN THE CONFERENCE
Through five Mid-American Conference games, NIU is No. 1 in the conference in four different team categories this season. The Huskies lead the MAC in field goal percentage (.451), field goal percentage defense (.348) and three-point field goal percentage defense (.253).
SO MANY BOARDS, SHE COULD BUILD A DECK
Since re-entering the starting lineup January 12 versus Eastern Michigan, redshirt junior Jenna Thorp has been attacking the ball off the rim and averaging 9.0 rebounds per game. Against the Eagles, she accounted for a career-high 13 rebounds, grabbings two off the offensive glass and 11 on the defensive glass. 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. She accounted for seven rebounds at both Central Michigan and Miami, but came down with five offensive rebounds versus the Redhawks, one shy of her career-high.
AUGUSTA'S IMPACT CONTINUING
Junior Natecia Augusta's exploits have been well documented as she has recorded four 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 10 times in 14 starts. She recorded her last double-double January 15 at Central Michigan, scoring 17 and rebounding 10. Her impact in games has been positive for Northern Illinois as it is 2-2 when she records a double-double and is 6-4 when she scores in double figures.
Whatever Head Coach Kathi Bennett is telling her team at halftime of games this season is working as the Huskies have scored 40-or-more points in four of the last five games. The margin between Northern Illinois and its Mid-American Conference opponents in the second half is quite substantial as as the Huskies are outscoring them, 201-160. Only Central Michigan has scored more points in the second half and held NIU to fewer than 40 points in the second half.
KEY TO SUCCESS: REBOUNDING
When comparing Northern Illinois and its opponents, the key to the Huskies success has been rebounding. NIU has outrebounded its opponents eight times this season and is 7-1 when accomplishing the feat. The rebounds have negated second chance opportunities for the Huskies opponents as they outscoring their opponents, 112-70 (+42), when outrebounding their opponents.
The Huskies were almost flawless retaining possession against the Redhawks in the second half January 18 at Millett Hall. After committing 12 turnovers in the first half, NIU only surrendered one in the second period after Amanda Corral slipped on the floor trying to escape a full court press.
SECOND HALF SHOOTING AND SECOND HALF DEFENSE
Since MAC play started, Northern Illinois has executed offensively and defensively in the second half. NIU has shot 68-of-140 (.486) from the field and limited its opponents, Ohio, Toledo, Eastern Michigan, Central Michigan and Miami to 43-of-128 (.336) from the field.
THE RETURN OF DUMOULIN
Last Saturday at Miami, junior Alex Dumoulin made solid contributions to the Huskies comeback effort as she totaled 13 minutes off the bench accumulating rebounds and a steal. It was the most minutes Dumoulin had played since putting in 20 minutes off the bench November 17 at Wisconsin.
NIU will be back on the road for a Sunday matchup at Bowling Green January 26. Tipoff is schedule for 1 p.m. Central. The game will be live on Time Warner Cable Sports, BCSN, ESPN3 and ESPN's Full Court package. It will be replayed on tape delay in Chicagoland on Comcast Chicago at 3 p.m. Check your local listings.