Feb. 11, 2011
DeKALB - The Northern Illinois women's basketball team (9-14, 3-7 MAC) eyes back-to-back road wins with a trip to Buffalo (13-10, 6-4 MAC), Saturday. Tip-off is set for 11 a.m. (CST), and the game will be televised live locally on Comcast SportsNet Chicago.
The Huskies have never lost in Buffalo, holding a perfect 5-0 record. Northern Illinois leads the all-time series 12-2, losing only in 2002 and in the first round of the MAC Tournament in 2009. Five current Huskies were on the team that lost to the Bulls two years ago: the four seniors and junior Courtney Shelton. NIU was the third-seed in the West. Buffalo entered the game as the sixth-seed in the East.
Playing without its two starting forwards, the Huskies defeated Buffalo 93-88 in overtime when the teams last met, Jan. 23, 2010. Marke Freeman scored a career-high 36 points, sixth-most by any player in an NIU uniform, and the Huskies had to overcome a 16-point second-half deficit to force OT.
Can't Miss This
Ebony Ellis is just two rebounds shy of becoming only the ninth player in NIU history to grab 800 boards. In her sophomore year alone, Ellis totalled 265 rebounds, eighth most in a season in NIU history. Last season, Ellis missed 10 games due to a foot injury, but still averaged 9.8 rebounds per game, ninth-most in Huskie lore. In 2008, Ellis grabbed 22 rebounds in a game, the fourth-most in NIU history. This year, she has had games with 15 and 14 boards.
Key Number: 3
Marke Freeman is only the third player in NIU history to average at least 13.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.0 steals per game for her career. The other two are current assistant coach E.C. Hill and Stephanie Raymond. Both Hill and Raymond went on to play professionally both in the WNBA and overseas.
Ebony Ellis is 95 points off from 1,000, and would need to average 13.6 ppg in NIU's seven guaranteed games to reach a grand. If NIU wins a first-round MAC Tournament game, Eillis would need to average just 11.8 ppg. Currently, Ellis is averaging 10.6 points per game this season. If Ellis joins Freeman in the esteemed club, it would be the first time two Huskies passed the milestone in one season since Kristan Knake and Jennifer Youngblood did so in the 2002-03 season.
Defense Locking On
NIU has held opponents to 40 percent shooting 10 times this year. The Huskies are 5-5 in those games. NIU has limited its opponents to less than 40 percent shooting in all but three MAC games. League opponents are shooting just 38.1 percent and scoring only 62.8 points per game against the Huskies, both fifth-best in the league.
NIU stands as the most accurate 3-point shooting team in the MAC, and the fifth-best 3-point shooting team in the nation. The Huskies have hit 40.2 percent of their attempts from distance, including knocking in 4-of-5 (80.0 percent) and 5-of-7 (71.4 percent) against UNI and SIU, respectively. This year's team is just 0.3 percent behind the 1988-89 team for claim to the title of most accurate 3-point shooting team in Huskie history.
NIU has a triple-threat from behind the 3-point line. Marke Freeman, Courtney Shelton and Brittney Callahan have combined to make 97 of NIU's 102 threes. Freeman has been the most prolific with 39 makes and the most accurate at 44.3 percent. Shelton has hit 35 treys at a 42.2 percent clip. Callahan has provided a deep threat off the bench with 23 3-pointers.