DeKALB - The Northern Illinois women’s basketball team (9-14, 3-8 MAC) will look to carry the momentum of the Ohio win into Mt. Pleasant, Mich., where the Huskies face Central Michigan (9-14, 6-5 MAC) in a Valentine’s Day match-up that should be anything but sweet.
Northern Illinois leads the all-time series between the schools 20-17, with a 13-5 advantage in DeKalb. In Mt. Pleasant, the Chippewas hold a 9-6 advantage. Northern Illinois has won three of the last four and six of the last eight meetings. The Huskies also hold the longest winning streak between the teams, a six-game stretch from 2001-2003.
LAST TIME AGAINST CMU
Sophomores Bianca Brown and Sarah Rogers totaled career-highs as the Northern Illinois women’s basketball team lost an 89-74 decision to Central Michigan, Wednesday, Jan. 20 at the Convocation Center.
Brown scored eight of her total 10 points in the first half, and finished the night hitting 5-of-9 shots from the field with four rebounds. Rogers tallied a career-high for the second straight game, outdoing her 13-point performance at Eastern Michigan with a 14-point night. Rogers also hit 5-of-9 from the field, and added eight rebounds and five assists.
The Huskies overcame a 14-point first half deficit to lead by three at half time. They took the lead when Rogers grabbed a defensive rebound with 10 seconds to go and got fouled on a last-second three-point attempt. She hit all three free throws to give NIU a 39-36 advantage.
A back-and-forth second half saw Northern Illinois take the lead by as many as 10 points on a three-point play by Terriel Cannon. The Chippewas answered with a 14-0 run capped by a Shonda Long three-pointer to take control of the game with a four-point lead they would not relinquish.
The Huskies allowed the most points they had to that point all season, as Central Michigan shot 41.7 percent (30-of-63) from the floor and hit 7-of-18 three-pointers (38.9 percent). The Chippewas were led by Kaihla Szunko with 24 points and 14 rebounds, both game highs. Long added 20 points, including hitting 10 of her 11 tries from the free throw line.
Northern Illinois had one of its best nights in terms of a balanced attack. The Huskies had four players score in double-figures, with Marke Freeman leading the way with 15, and Courtney Shelton scoring 11 in addition to Brown and Rogers’ outputs.
ABOUT THE CHIPPEWAS
Central Michigan is coming off its biggest win of the season. The Chippewas came back from 16 points down in the second half to defeat MAC East leader Bowling Green 67-65. Led by 21 points and 18 rebounds by Kaihla Szunko and 16 points from Shonda Long, Central Michigan improved to 6-5 in league play and finished their tour of the conference’s East Division with a 3-3 record.
Long leads the Chips with 14.7 points per game, and is followed by Szunko at 13.3 per contest.
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.
NIU ON VALENTINE’S DAY
Northern Illinois is 5-8 all-time on Valentine’s Day. The Huskies have won their last two Feb. 14 match-ups, a 65-54 win last year at Buffalo and an 82-68 win over Eastern Michigan in 2007. NIU also holds Valentine’s Day wins over UIC (83-25, 1970), Notre Dame (52-26, 1976), and Wright State (86-55, 1991).
STEPPING IN AND STEPPING UP
Huskie guard Sarah Rogers has played much of the season at the power forward position, filling a role vacated by injured junior Ebony Ellis. In the nine games that Ellis has been hurt, Rogers is averaging 8.0 points and 7.9 rebounds per game.
FIRST HALF DEFENSE DIALS IN
The Huskie defense dialed in during the first half of each of the last two games. Northern Illinois limited Ohio to just 18 first-half points on 26.9 percent (7-of-26) shooting, and NIU allowed just 22 points on 7-of-26 (26.8 percent) shooting by Akron in the opening period.
Marke Freeman is the only player in the Mid-American Conference to average at least 20 points, five rebounds and four assists per game. Her 20.3 points per game rank second in the league, while her 4.6 assists per game are second best. She also ranks 15th in rebounding with a 5.7 rpg average.
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 956 points in her career at NIU. That total includes 783 points on 261 career three-pointers made, the most in Huskie history. To reach the 1,000-point milestone, York would have to average 7.3 points per game over the Huskies’ final six games. York is currently averaging 9.0 points per game.
“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 seventh in the league with 7.5 boards per game. At just 5-5, Freeman ranks 15th with 5.7 per contest. Freeman and Rogers are the only guards on the league’s top-20.
BIG MARGINS IN OVERTIME
Since last season, NIU has gone 5-1 in overtime games. In the five 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.
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 was 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.
Marke Freeman has been creating for her teammates at a high rate over the last 14 games. After averaging 2.4 assists for the first nine games of the year, she’s dished out 69 assists in the last 14 match-ups (4.9 per game). That total includes a career-best nine-assist night against Toledo. Her rebounding is also up, from 3.7 to 5.7 per game.
HEARTS ON SLEEVES
Northern Illinois has overcome three second-half deficits of nine or more this season. The Huskies trailed by 16 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 12th in the MAC in blocked shots with 10 in league play. The rookie has blocked three shots in a game three times this season, most recently against Akron. She is averaging 2.4 blocks per 40 minutes played.
Marke Freeman dished out a season-best nine assists against Toledo, demonstrating that her play-making ability goes well beyond scoring. She ranks third in the league in MAC play with 4.6 assists per game.
Marke Freeman leads the MAC in steals with 2.9 per game. She set a career-high with eight steals at No. 24 Nebraska. The junior swiped three in the first half and five in the second period. The total is tied for the fifth-most in a game in NIU history. That record is currently held by Huskie head coach Carol Owens, who totaled 11 steals against Western Illinois in 1988. More recently, she totaled seven steals against Miami.
Ten of the 11 players on the Northern Illinois roster have registered career-highs this season. Marke Freeman scored a career-high 36 against Buffalo, the fifth time this season she has set a new career-high. Other Huskies with career-highs include Ebony Ellis (23, vs. Loyola), Mauvolyene Adams (22, vs. SIU), Sarah Rogers (14, vs. CMU), Tenisha Wilson (10, at Milwaukee), Courtney Shelton (15, vs. Buffalo), and Terriel Cannon (14 vs. Buffalo). Freshmen Shaakira Haywood and Brittney Callahan’s career-highs stand at six and seven, respectively.
The frontcourt combination of Ebony Ellis and Mauvolyene Adams has totaled 14 double-doubles in 18 games this season. Adams has totaled nine, while Ellis registered at least 10 and 10 in five contests. Marke Freeman added her name to the double-double decadence with 25 points and a career-high 12 rebounds against Kent State.
A NEW CAREER LEADER
Kylie York, the lone senior for the Huskies, hit four three-pointers against Loyola to become the top three-point shooter in NIU history. York surpassed the previous NIU record of 221 career treys, held by Denise Dove since 1991, and now has 260 for her career. York holds the second and third slot for threes in a season.
She hit 77 as a sophomore, knocked down 76 last season, and ranks second in the MAC with 59 makes this year. Dove also ranks first for threes in a season at 80, with York now just 20 back.