Huskies Host Akron in Red Out Wednesday Night

GO HUSKIES Freshman Jazmine Harris scored eight points off the bench for NIU at WMU
Freshman Jazmine Harris scored eight points off the bench for NIU at WMU

Feb. 4, 2014

Game 20 - vs Akron (DeKalb, Ill.)
Wednesday, February 5 (7 p.m.)
Live Stats:
Video: NIUtube
Radio: WLBK 98.9 FM, 1360 AM; NIUtube (6:45 p.m. pregame)
Play-by-Play: Andy Garcia & Ethel Gregory
Twitter: @NIUscores

Northern Illinois begin a two game homestand Wednesday night at the NIU Convocation Center when its hosts Akron February 5. The Huskies and the Zips will tipoff at 7 p.m. All fans wearing red to the game will receive reduced admission.

The Huskies are hosting a Red Out at the Convocation Center Wednesday night versus Akron. Fans wearing red to the game will receive $3 admission to the game. The men's basketball team held the same promotion Tuesday night versus Miami (Ohio).

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 and Akron have a long history as conference foes, even before both joined the Mid-American Conference in 1997. Both the Huskies and Zips were members of the North Star Conference from 1988-1992. All-time, NIU owns the lead in the series, 18-8, and have won six of the last 10 in the series, including a second round matchup in the Mid-American Conference Tournament in 2012 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. The Zips took the last meeting in 2013, 63-52, but it was the Huskies who took the two meetings in 2012. NIU's last win at home versus Akron was in 2009 as the Huskies defeated UA, 73-66.

NIU made its second visit to the state of Michigan Saturday afternoon in the MAC's only game of the day at Western Michigan. Each team exchanged runs in the first half but it was WMU who jumped out to lead at the end of the half, 33-20.

The Northern Illinois defense clamped down in the second half, only allowing the Broncos to score 23 points in the second half and causing a slew of turnovers, 17 total in the game and nine in the second half. On the flip side, the Huskies only turned the ball over a season-low seven times but shot .306 from the field to capitalize on the opportunity and fell, 56-43.

The Huskies bench was primed as they scored 18 points in the game and combined for 84 minutes of the possible 200 in the game. Alexis Lindstrom led the bench with nine points, sinking three shots from behind the arc, followed by Jazmine Harris' eight. Junior Danny Pulliam led NIU with 11 points in the game, shooting 5-for-11 from the field.

Plainly stated, Akron is one of the top-scoring offenses in the NCAA. The Zips are No. 2 in the Mid-American and 14th in the country in scoring offense at 83.4 points per game and have the top-scoring duo in Division I with Rachel Tecca and Hanna Luburgh each contributing 23.9 and 23.5 points per game, respectively. Tecca is seventh in the country, while Luburgh is ninth in the country. Defensively however, UA is 11th in the MAC and 309th in the NCAA in scoring defense as it is surrendering 74.8 points per game. As a team Akron has posted 100 points three times, last doing so February 2 versus Buffalo (W, 101-92).

So far this season, Akron is 12-8 with a 6-3 clip in the Mid-American Conference. While strong at home, 9-1, the Zips have had their struggles on the road as they possess a 3-6 record in road games, including a 2-2 mark at MAC opponents. Akron opened 0-2 on the road in the MAC with losses at Bowling Green and Miami but has since defeated Eastern Michigan and Toledo in away contests. In their last five conference games, the Zips are 5-0. The team is seventh nationally in assists at 19.1 per game.

The Northern Illinois defense has been a headache for opposing teams over the last three games as it has caused 51 turnovers, an average of 17 per contest. Over the last three games offensively, NIU has only surrendered 27 turnovers, a clip of nine per game. Through that span, the Huskies have also led their foes in steals during that stretch, 19-9.

The Huskies have had their tendencies this season and scoring down in the paint has been a strength of the team. Through 19 games this year, NIU has averaged almost 25 points in the paint per game. 15 times Northern Illinois has accumulated 20-or-more points and has scored 30-or-more three times this year. The Huskies best performance of the year occurred December 21 versus Northern Iowa, scoring 42 points.

The NIU bench made significant contributions at Western Michigan last Saturday, combining for 84 minutes in the game or 42 percent of the playing time. Alexis Lindstrom led all players off the bench as she played 27 minutes in the contest with nine points.

Senior Ashley Sneed is always looked upon as a bundle of defensive energy for the Huskies. That label did not change for her at WMU as she accounted for a season-high three steals. It also tied her career-high, set last season at Buffalo on January 10, 2013. Smothering her opposition with constant pressure, Sneed forced several turnovers and did not commit any personal fouls, despite pressing the opposition on the perimeter and on the transition in 26 minutes of play.

The Huskies own several advantages at home this season and it shows with their 5-3 record at the Convocation Center. The bullets below illustrate the Huskies advantages in several statistical categories. NOTE: all statistics reflect percentages and per game figures.

FG percentage:    +5.7 %
Rebounds:    + 5.6 rpg
Assists:    + 6.1 apg
Scoring:    + 8.1 ppg
Turnovers:    + 1.75 tpg

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.

The Huskies have produced large scoring efforts at home this season, as they've scored 70-or-more points three times in their eight games. By no surprise, NIU is 3-0 when reaching the 70-point plateau at the Convocation Center this season. None of Northern Illinois' opponents have surpassed the 70 point mark and are collectively only scoring 57.9 points per game against the Huskies. NIU's top-offensive performance was in the home-opener against Mississippi Valley State, scoring 79 points November 12. The Huskies best defensive performance was versus Kent State last Wednesday, only allowing 43 points.

Northern Illinois has made the NIU Convocation Center its own race track as well as the Huskies are outscoring their opponents, 22-10, on fast breaks at home. NIU is also outscoring opponents on turnovers at home, 100-86, and on second chance points at a clip of 102-72.

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 .412 in the second stanza and Pulliam can be partially credited for the success as she is averaging 2.0 assists during the second half of games. She also only has six turnovers over the last nine games during the final 20 minutes of play.

Northern Illinois' front court has been steady offensively in the last four games as juniors Natecia Augusta and Jenna Thorp have carried the torch for the Huskies. Augusta is averaging 9.5 points per game, while Thorp had a scored a clip of 8.0 per contest. Thorp led Northern Illinois in scoring against Buffalo while Augusta led NIU at Bowling Green as each contributed 12 points. The duo each scored 10 points versus Kent State last Wednesday.

NIU has held five Mid-American Conference opponents to under 60 points this season and is 3-2 when doing so. The Huskies have held Ohio (51), Eastern Michigan (54), Bowling Green (57), Kent State (43) and Western Michigan (56) to under 60 points, with only the Broncos and Falcons emerging victorious. Northern Illinois is second in the MAC in scoring defense as it has only allowed other conference opponents to score an average of 57.9 points per game.

A trio of Huskies, Amanda Corral, Ally Lehman and Danny Pulliam, have been NIU's main ball-distributors at home this season as the three have combined for 69 of NIU's 109 assists at the Convocation Center this season (.633). Pulliam leads the trio with 24 helpers while Corral sits in the middle with 23. Lehman rounds out the group with 22 assists.

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. 17 in the country and No. 1 in the Mid-American Conference in turnovers per game at 12.8 per game. The Huskies are averaging just over 59 field goal attempts per game and by adding 13, the number the turnovers, NIU is averaging 72 possessions a game. Putting that into context, Northern Illinois is only committing a turnover every 5.6 possessions.

Northern Illinois returns home for the final game of its current homestand, hosting Ball State Sunday, February 9. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. Central time. Fans wearing pink to the game will receive reduced admission to the game, paying only $3 as part of the "Pink Out" promotion.

The Last Meeting
Northern Illinois52
January 16, 2013
DeKalb, Ill.
Strong First Half Not Enough For NIU Against Akron
Northern Illinois employed a new look on offense that paid off in the first half but Akron's transition game led to a key 18-2 second half run for a 63-52 win Wednesday evening at the Convocation Center in Mid-American Conference action. The Zips' (12-4, 3-0 MAC) 9-for-18 three-point performance helped drop the Huskies to 5-11, 0-3 in MAC play.



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