Huskies Head to Western Michigan in Search of Fifth MAC Win



Jan. 31, 2014

Game 19 - vs Western Michigan (Kalamazoo, Mich.)
Saturday, February 1 (3:30 p.m.)
Live Stats:
Radio: WLBK 98.9 FM, 1360 AM; NIUTube (3:15 p.m. pregame)
Play-by-Play: Brian Jennings
Twitter: @NIUscores

With an even 4-4 record in the Mid-American Conference, the Northern Illinois women’s basketball team will head back on the road for a contest at Western Michigan on Saturday, February 1. Tipoff is slated for 3:30 p.m. Central at Read Fieldhouse/University Arena. The game can be heard live on WLBK, as well as online via NIUtube.

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.

Saturday’s contest at University Arena between Northern Illinois and Western Michigan will be the golden meeting (50th) between the two schools. All-time WMU leads the series, 30-19, and have taken six of the last 10. NIU’s last victory over the Broncos was in the first round of 2012 Mid-American Conference Tournament, when the Huskies triumphed, 68-51, at the Convocation Center en route to Northern Illinois’ march to the quarterfinals that season. The Huskies last victory at Read Fieldhouse/University Arena was earlier that season, January 19, 2012, as NIU defeated WMU, 53-41.

The Huskies hosted Kent State at the Convocation Center for a midweek matchup in hopes of getting back to .500 in the MAC. After a KSU layup to start the game, Northern Illinois went on a 10-0 run to take the lead, which it never relinquished, and finished the half on a 11-2 run to end the period with a 33-20 lead over the Golden Flashes.

NIU continued to increase its lead in the game and did so with a steady pace as it built its biggest lead, 23 points, with 34 seconds remaining in the game. The Huskies would claim their fourth victory in the Mid-American Conference, 65-43.

Northern Illinois outrebounded Kent State, 31-28, in the game to improve its record to 8-1 when completing the task. NIU also had four scorers reach double figures and record three assists in the game. Amanda Corral led all scorers with 13 in the game, 11 of which came in the second half of play. Natecia Augusta and Jenna Thorp each scored 10 points but Ashley Sneed scored 12 points, sinking 5-of-6 shots taken in the game.

Western Michigan enters the contest with an 8-11 record and are even with the Huskies in the MAC standings at 4-4. After opening conference play 2-0 with wins over Miami and Buffalo, the team lost two straight to Ohio and Eastern Michigan. The Broncos have since gone 2-2 in the Mid-American Conference, having lost the last two contests to Central Michigan and Ball State. WMU is surrendering 77.4 points per game in its last eight games and is scoring at a rate of 74.2.

In 14 games played, Bronco Miracle Woods leads the team at 18.2 points and 7.4 rebounds per game from her center position. Woods is the reigning Mid-American Conference player of the week after scoring 36 points at Central Michigan last Saturday. Woods also leads the team in blocks and field goal percentage at 23 and .544, respectively. Marquisha Harris has been a safety valve for Western Michigan’s scoring and rebounding as well as she’s averaging 11.4 points and 7.3 rebounds per outing. Point guard Alex Morton is averaging 3.7 assists per game, while also scoring 8.3 points per game.

Since rejoining the MAC in 1997-98, Northern Illinois is 2-13 in Kalamazoo. Head Coach Kathi Bennett is currently only one of two coaches since 1997, the other being Carol Owens (2005-10), to win a game at Read Fieldhouse/University Arena. Bennett is 1-2 at Read Fieldhouse at the helm of the NIU. Bennett earned her lone win during the 2012 season, while Owens won at Western Michigan in 2009.

Junior Amanda Corral was named to CoSIDA’s Capital One Academic All-District team Thursday afternoon, becoming the first Huskie in the program since 1982 to earn the honor. Corral sports a flawless 4.0 grade point average in pre-physical therapy and paces the Northern Illinois squad in points per game at 14.6. Doreen Zierer (1979-82) and Diane Hillard (1978-82) were the last players to earn such honors, each earning distinction in 1982. Zierer was later named a Second Team Academic All-American by CoSIDA in 1982. Corral will move on to the national ballot, 1-of-40 players, in hopes of duplicating Zierer’s feat. She is only 1-of-2 players from the MAC to earn the honor, joining Akron’s Rachel Tecca.

With 11:24 remaining in the second half Wednesday night versus Kent State, senior Alicia Johnson made her 100th career appearance for the Huskies. She leads the team in career appearances and is the first Huskies since Shaakira Haywood (2009-13) to play in 100 career games in the NIU women’s basketball program. Classmate Ashley Sneed has played in 91 career games as a Huskie.

When the Huskies hosted Kent State on Wednesday night, it wasn’t just one NIU player that controlled the scoring, it was a committee of Northern Illinois players on the court as four players scored in double-figures. Down low in the post, Natecia Augusta and Jenna Thorp scored 10 points each, helping NIU to outscore KSU in the paint, 24-22. Guards Amanda Corral and Ashley Sneed were Northern Illinois’ top scorers in the game, respectively, as Corral scored 13 points and and Sneed contributed 12.

NIU’s defense has shown brilliance during the 2013-14 season, creating turnovers, blocking shots and holding opponents to low scoring totals and field goal percentages. However, the Huskies had not held an opponent under 50 points this season, until Wednesday night versus Kent State. Northern Illinois only allowed the Golden Flashes to score 43 points in the game, eight points fewer than Ohio scored (51) to mark the lowest total allowed by the Huskies this season.

NIU has held four Mid-American Conference opponents to under 60 points this season and is 3-1 when doing so. The Huskies have held Ohio (51), Eastern Michigan (54), Bowling Green (57) and Kent State (43) to under 60 points, with only the Falcons emerging victorious. Northern Illinois second in the MAC in scoring defense as it has only allowed other conference opponents to score an average of 59.0 points per game.

The Huskies have done a good job over the last four games putting themselves in others way as they have blocked a combined 11 shots in that time period, an average of 2.75 per game. Through 18 games this season, the Huskies are averaging 1.8 blocks per game. Junior Natecia Augusta has been a big part of that increase in productivity as she has combined for seven in the last four games. She set a new career-high at Miami with three blocked shots, and repeated the effort against Kent State to tie her best career mark.

Ask any coach in the Mid-American Conference and they’ll all say the same thing -- NIU junior Amanda Corral only gets stronger as games progress. Since the Huskies started conference play, Corral is averaging 9.6 points, shooting at a rate of .482 from the field (27-of-56) in 19.1 minutes of play during the second half of games.

In the last eight games this season, Amanda Corral has almost been a lock at the free throw line as she’s posted a percentage of .880 from the free throw line. Amongst players with 25-or-more attempts at the charity stripe in the last eight games, Corral is fourth in the Mid-American Conference with her percentage, trailing Bowling Green’s Miriam Justinger, Deborah Hoekstra and Alexis Rogers.

Junior Jenna Thorp has been a terror for the Huskies opposition over the last five games as a rebounder, grabbing 8.3 boards per game in that span. The six 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 7.5 points per game in the last six games.

While they’ve lost their last two games, the Huskies have maintained stellar defense in the second half of games as they’ve outscored opponents on average, 36-32, in 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. The Huskies are shooting .430 in the second stanza and Pulliam can be partially credited for the success as she is averaging 2.1 assists during the second half of games. She also only has five turnovers over the last eight games during the final 20 minutes of play.

Northern Illinois returns home for a two game home stand, starting with a Wednesday night matchup with Akron on February 5. Tipoff is lated for 7 p.m. Central at the NIU Convocation Center. The Red Riot student group will be hosting a "Red Out" for the game, discounting admission  to $3 for all fans that wear red to the game.

The Last Meeting
Northern Illinois50
Western Michigan58
March 6, 2013
Kalamazoo, Mich.
NIU Women's Basketball Falls to Western Michigan
The NIU women's basketball team dropped its regular season finale, 58-50, to Western Michigan at University Arena Wednesday night.



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