Huskies Close January at Home Versus Kent State

GO HUSKIES Ally Lehman has 19 assists at home this season, third on the squad behind Amanda Corral's and Danny Pulliam's 21.
Ally Lehman has 19 assists at home this season, third on the squad behind Amanda Corral's and Danny Pulliam's 21.

Jan. 28, 2014

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Game 18
vs Kent State (Convocation Center/DeKalb, Ill.)
Wednesday, January 29 (7 p.m.)
Live Stats:
Video: NIUtube
Radio: NIUTube (6:45 p.m. pregame)
Play-by-Play: Terry Ryan
Twitter: @NIUscores

The Northern Illinois women’s basketball team is hoping to get back to to its winning ways Wednesday night as it hosts Kent State in the Huskies eighth Mid-American Conference game of the season. The January 29 contest will tipoff at 7 p.m. Central at the NIU Convocation Center.

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

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-demand (subscription required). Play-by-play man Andy Garcia, now in his third year, will be on the call for the Huskies 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 found @NIUscores.

Northern Illinois will take on Kent State for the 30th time Wednesday night with the Huskies hoping to close the series gap. The Golden Flashes own an 18-11 lead in the series over NIU but the Huskies have taken the last two meetings. All-time at the Convocation Center, Northern Illinois is 3-2 against the Golden Flashes. In the last home meeting, January 28, 2012, the Huskies defeated KSU, 66-55, thanks to a 23 point performance by former Huskie Courtney Shelton (2008-12).  Last season, NIU defeated the Golden Flashes, 52-47, at the M.A.C. Center in Kent, Ohio for Northern Illinois’ second conference win of the season.

NIU headed East to Bowling Green for a Sunday matchup with the Falcons at the Stroh Center, in hopes of securing its first victory at BGSU since 2004. Northern Illinois opened strong against Bowling Green, the MAC East’s No. 1 team, as it tied the Falcons, 8-8, seven minutes into the game. While BGSU built a lead, the Huskies played a great defense as they showed their rank as Mid-American Conference’s No. 2 defense.

Northern Illinois had its opportunities to score as it posted 63 shots in the game, but were unable to capitalize on its scoring chances against the MAC’s No. 1 defense. While NIU trailed by double-digits for the last six minutes of the first half and most of the second half, the Huskies cut that lead to single digits with seven minutes left as Alicia Johnson hit a jump shot in the paint to bring NIU back within nine, 47-38. The Huskies were unable to overcome the deficit however, as they fell to the Falcons, 57-44.

Junior Natecia Augusta paced the Huskie offense with 12 points in the contest. Augusta was aggressive in the post offensively and defensively, as she tied her career-high of 12 field goal attempts in the game. Augusta, Alex Dumoulin and Johnson collectively held BGSU’s leading scorer Alexis Rogers to only six points in the game with only one field goal, trapping the forward under the basket and on the baseline while guards limited the passing outlets. Amanda Corral scored 11 points in the game, reaching double-digits for the sixth time in MAC play.

Kent State owns a 3-15 record this season and is winless in the Mid-American Conference at 0-7. It has also lost its last 10 games. KSU has not defeated an opponent since December 4, 2013, a 69-46 victory over Niagara. On the road KSU is winless at a clip of 0-7. The Golden Flashes have also posted victories over Eastern Kentucky (75-74 OT), and against Stephen F. Austin, 54-52.

Defensively, Kent State has been respectable, surrendering 70.0 points per game but only scoring 55.4 per contest. Playing an aggressive style, the Golden Flashes are averaging 3.6 blocks and and 8.3 steals per outing. Amber Dunlap and Montia Johnson are the top-scorers this season for Kent State at 8.9 and 8.8 points per game, respectively. Johnson leads the squad in rebounding with 6.8 boards per contest. Center CiCi Shannon, standing 6-4 according to the KSU roster, is the Golden Flashes top shot blocker with 47 this season (2.6 per game). A transfer from Southern Illinois, Shannon led the Missouri Valley Conference in blocks during the  2011-12 season at 2.2 blocks per game.

Seven minutes into the game last Sunday at Bowling Green, senior Alicia Johnson stepped onto the court for her 99th career appearance with the Huskies. With an potential appearance Wednesday versus Kent State, Johnson will be the first senior this season to have played in 100 career games and first Huskies since Shaakira Haywood on January 5, 2013 at Valparaiso to play in 100 career games in the NIU women’s basketball program. Classmate Ashley Sneed has played in 90 career games as a Huskie.

Against Bowling Green, the Mid-American Conference’s No. 1 defense, the Huskies outscored the Falcons in the paint, 28-22. Junior Natecia Augusta played a vital role in breaking down the defense as she accounted for 12 points in the game. Amanda Corral has caused problems on pull up shots and on the drive with 11 points total. After realizing, the threat late in the second half, BGSU collapsed on the post -- triple teaming at times -- to open up mid-range opportunities for NIU, which led to the Huskies late charge on the scoreboard in the period. Defensively, the Huskies were able to hold Bowling Green’s top-scorer Alexis Rogers, a transfer from Duke, to only six points and 1-of-8 shooting. Her six points were a season-low for the senior, who had twice been named the MAC East Player of the Year. Forwards Alex Dumoulin, Amber Gray, Alicia Johnson and Augusta were all part of NIU’s defense in the post.

Junior Jenna Thorp has been a terror for the Huskies opposition over the last five games as a rebounder, grabbing 8.8 boards per game in that span. The five game mark is the best of her NIU career and is highlighted by two double-digit efforts versus Eastern Michigan (13) and Buffalo (11), setting a new career-high against the Eagles. Thorp is also averaging 7.0 points per game in the last five games.

In its last three home games, Northern Illinois is 2-1 with its only loss occurring January 23 versus Buffalo, 63-52. Through seven game, the Huskies have outscored their opponents at the Convocation Center this season, 66-60, and are shooting .424 from the field to their opponents .369. The glass favors NIU as well as the Huskies own + 6.0 rebound margin over opponents at home.

While has lost its last two games, the Huskies have maintained its stellar defense in the second half of games as they’ve outscored opponents, 36-32, in the MAC games. The Northern Illinois defense has also only allowed conference opponents to shoot .353 from the field in the second half through seven games, including .237 from behind the three-point line.

Redshirt junior Danny Pulliam has an eye for breaking down Mid-American Conference defenses in the second half from her point guard position. While the Huskies are shooting .427 in the second stanza, Pulliam can be partially credited for the success as she is averaging 2.1 assists per game  during the second half of games. She also only has four turnovers over the last seven games during the final 20 minutes of play.

The NIU defense proved its mettle when it comes to facing the MAC’s top competition as it caused Bowling Green to turn the ball over 18 times on Sunday afternoon, while only committing 11, and scored 19 points off those chances, a new season-high. Northern Illinois surpassed their previous high of 18 points off of turnovers previously recorded versus Lamar November 30 at the Aggie Hotel Encanto Thanksgiving Classic at New Mexico State.

Over the last two games, the Huskies have worked their tail off on the offensive glass as they have averaged 15.0 offensive rebounds in that span against Buffalo and Bowling Green. Versus the Bulls, NIU pulled down 16 boards from the offensive glass and at BGSU, followed up with a 14 offensive rebound performance. Jenna Thorp has been the leader of the pack as he has pulled down eight offensive rebounds over the last two games.

There has been a movement of reliability in Northern Illinois’ front court as juniors Natecia Augusta and Jenna Thorp have carried the scoring torch for the Huskies over the last two games. Augusta paced NIU last week with 10.0 points per game, while Thorp had a scored a clip of 9.0 per contest. Each led the Huskies in scoring with 12 points as Thorp led Northern Illinois against Buffalo while Augusta led NIU at Bowling Green.

The Huskies have put together a smoke and mirrors attack with their inside-out style of attack and have executed with ferocity at home. Three players, Amanda Corral, Ally Lehman and Danny Pulliam, have been great distributors for Northern Illinois at home as the trio have combined for 61 assists at the Convocation Center this year, almost 65 percent of NIU’s assists. Corral and Pulliam each have 21 assists at home this season, while Lehman has 19 assists. Each has a positive assist to turnover ratio with Pulliam pacing the Huskies at a clip of 1.91.

The Huskies will be the lone Mid-American Conference team playing Saturday, February 1 as Northern Illinois heads to Western Michigan. The Huskies and Broncos will tipoff at 3:30 p.m. Central.



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