|DeKALB, Ill. - The Northern Illinois women's basketball team (8-11, 2-5 Mid-American Conference) continues crossover play with the Mid-American Conference East when it takes on Kent State (12-7, 5-2 MAC), Saturday in the second game of the "Cram the Convo" Huskie basketball doubleheader at 2:30 p.m..
In a series that dates back to 1982, Kent State leads Northern Illinois 16-9. The teams have split their last four meetings. NIU won in the 2007 MAC Tournament and in the 2008 regular season. The Golden Flashes countered with a tournament win in 2008, and defeated NIU 67-50 last time out.
ABOUT THE GOLDEN FLASHES
The Huskies will have to try to slow the momentum of Kent State, which has won its last three and six of its last eight games.
Most recently, the Golden Flashes have defeated Buffalo, Ball State, and Central Michigan. They have also defeated Ohio and Miami in MAC play, but lost to Akron and Bowling Green in league action.
Forward Taisja Jones leads Kent State in scoring with 14.3 points per game. The junior has led the Golden Flashes on nine occasions, and scored 20 or more points seven times this season. KSU's Jamilah Humes also averages double figures with 11.5 per contest.
LAST TIME AGAINST KSU
Northern Illinois dropped its inter-divisional game with Kent State, falling to the Golden Flashes, 67-50, at the Convocation Center.
NIU shot a 2008-09 season-low 28.6 percent from the field and its 50 points was the lowest for the Huskies this year since scoring 58 against IUPUI in that year's opener Nov. 14, 2008. Northern Illinois was also out-rebounded, 51-36.
Kent State had three players finish in double figures with Anna Kowalska leading all scorers with 19 points. Jamilah Humes followed with 17, while Rachel Bennett scored 12 points.
The Huskies got off to a slow start offensively in the first half, setting the tone for the whole game. NIU missed its first five shots to start the game, falling behind 7-0. Becky Smith ended the scoring drought, and keyed an 8-0 Huskie run, with NIU's first bucket with 14:48 left in the first half.
Marke Freeman put NIU up 8-7, its first and only lead of the game, when she hit a jumper with 11:36 left in the first half. KSU responded with a 10-0 run to take an 11-point lead and never looked back.
Kylie York led the way for the Huskies with 13 points. Freeman also finished in double digits, scoring 12 points off the bench, including a 6-for-6 performance from the free throw line.
Both teams shot poorly in the game. While NIU shot 16-for-56 from the field, a season low in field goals made, Kent State was 19-of-57 from the field, shooting only 33.3 percent for the game. The Golden Flashes did a lot of their damage from the free throw line. KSU went 24-for-33 from the charity stripe, while the Huskies made 14 trips to the free throw line, hitting 11 free throws.
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.
Marke Freeman is the only player in the Mid-American Conference to average at least 20 points, five rebounds and five assists per game. Her 21.7 points per game lead the league, while her 5.0 assists per game are third best. She also ranks 18th in rebounding with a 5.6 average.
Junior Marke Freeman was named MAC West Player of the Week, Monday, Jan. 25, after averaging 25.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 6.0 assists per game against Central Michigan and Buffalo. Freeman scored a career-high 36 against the Bulls, including two late lay-ups that finished a 16-point NIU comeback to send the game to overtime. The award is the second in three weeks for the Springfield, Ill. native. With Ebony Ellis' two Player of the Week selections, NIU has earned the honor four times in a season for the first time since rejoining the MAC in 1997-98.
ANOTHER RECORD TO CHASE
Senior Kylie York is en route to becoming the 25th member of the Northern Illinois 1,000-Point Club. York has scored 924 points in her career at NIU. That total includes 756 points on 252 career three-pointers made, the most in Huskie history.
"GUARDING" THE BOARDS
Northern Illinois guards Marke Freeman and Sarah Rogers both rank in the MAC's top-20 for rebounding in conference play. They are also the two shortest players on the list. Rogers, who stands 5-8, ranks ninth in the league with 7.4 boards per game. At just 5-5, Freeman ranks tied for 18th with 5.6 per contest. Only one other guard is in the rankings. Miami's Ashleigh Brown, who stands 5-11, is also tied for 18th (5.6 rpg).
BIG MARGINS IN OVERTIME
Since last season, NIU has gone 5-1 in overtime games. In the four wins, the Huskies have outdone their opponents by 6.9 points per game. Most recently, NIU beat Buffalo 93-88 after trailing by as much as 16 in the second half. The Huskies also defeated Loyola in OT this season, downing the Ramblers on the road, 74-65.
Marke Freeman has been creating for her teammates at a high rate over the last seven games. After averaging 2.4 assists for the first nine games of the year, she's dished out 53 assists in the last 10 match-ups (5.3 per game). That total includes a career-best nine-assist night against Toledo. Her rebounding is also up, from 3.7 to 5.6 per game.
HEARTS ON SLEEVES
Northern Illinois has overcome three second-half deficits of nine or more this season. The Huskies trailed to Buffalo with 13 minutes left, and came back to win by five in overtime. NIU outscored UIC by 16 over the last nine minutes to extinguish the Flames by seven. The Huskies were down by 14 with 12 minutes left at Chicago State and came back to win by five. NIU also held off a charging Loyola team to win on the road by 10 in overtime.
HAY-WOOD YA BLOCK A SHOT?
Freshman forward Shaakira Haywood has wasted no time making herself known to players who venture into the paint. Haywood ranks 15th in the MAC in total blocked shots with six. The rookie swatted three attempts from Western Illinois, blocked consecutive tries by IUPUI, and had two key rejections in the win over Buffalo. She is averaging 2.4 blocks per 40 minutes played.