NIU Starts Two Game Trip at Buffalo

GO HUSKIES Sophomore Alexis Lindstrom is shooting .400 from behind the arc in the last three games.
Sophomore Alexis Lindstrom is shooting .400 from behind the arc in the last three games.

Feb. 14, 2014

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Game 22 - vs Buffalo (Buffalo, N.Y.)
Saturday, February 15 (11 a.m.)
Live Stats:
Radio: WLBK 98.9 FM, 1360 AM; NIUTube (10:45 a.m. pregame)
Play-by-Play: Andy Garcia
Twitter: @NIUscores

Northern Illinois begins a two-game road trip Saturday, February 15 when it takes on Buffalo at Alumni Arena. Tipoff is slated for 11 a.m. Central and will be the first game of a Bulls doubleheader.

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 matchup will be the second meeting this season between Northern Illinois and Buffalo, the first time this season NIU has played an opponent twice in 2013-14. The game will also be the 20th contest between the two teams with the Huskies leadinng the all-time series 13-6 against the Bulls. In the first meeting this season at the NIU Convocation Center, NIU only trailed UB by one point at halftime, 24-23, but were outscored in the second period, 39-29, to fall in the contest, 63-52. Junior Jenna Thorp was the only Huskies to score and rebound in double-figures 13 and 11, respectively, to secure her first career double-double.

Northern Illinois hosted Ball State in the last contest of a two-game homestand. The Huskies and the Cardinals played a neck-and-neck contest through the first 11 minutes, tying three times and trading leads seven times, as the NIU defense limited BSU to just 14 points. A three-point basket by the Cardinals Shelbie Justice with 6:36 left in the first half gave Ball State the lead that it never relinquished. NIU trailed BSU at halftime, 28-18.

The Huskies attempted to mount a comeback in the second half as Alexis Lindstrom and Danny Pulliam each made three shots from behind the three-point line in the half to close the gap between the two teams, a gap that reached 18 points six minutes into the second half. Pulliam led all NIU scorers with 11 points, while also dishing four assists. Lindstrom finished with nine points in the game, all of which came in the second half. Natecia Augusta tied her career-high in blocks for the third time this season as she blocked three shots in the game. NIU was outscored at the free-throw line in the game, 24-3, as the Huskies lost to the Cardinals, 63-50.

Buffalo owns a 13-9 overall record and 6-5 record in the Mid-American Conference, placing it in third in the MAC East standings. When NIU last played the Bulls, UB was on a two-game conference winning streak after opening conference 0-3. Buffalo went on to win five-consecutive MAC games before falling at Akron on February 2, 101-92. In their last three MAC contests, the Bulls are 1-2 and lost to Central Michigan, 74-63, last time out on February 9.

Mackenzie Loesing is leading Buffalo in scoring with 17.2 points per game  with 2.4 steals per outing to compliment her scoring. Loesing scored 15 points at NIU earlier this season to lead all scorers in the game. Kristen Sharkey is second in scoring with 14.6 points but is the leading rebounder at a clip of 9.0 per game. As a team, Buffalo is averaging 4.7 blocks per game, led by Christa Baccas 2.5 per game average. Point guard Mageaux Gupilan is distributing 4.7 assists per contest, the third best average in the MAC this season. Defensively, the Bulls are only allowing its opponents to shoot .358 from the field, the top mark in the Mid-American Conference this seaon.

Since the start of Mid-American Conference play, redshirt junior Jenna Thorp has played with full maturity on the court, leading the Huskies in rebounding during conference play (7.1) and scoring the fourth-best average on the team (6.9). The output by Thorp game-in and game-out has been a sustainable product for NIU as she has recorded two double-doubles in that time, and three double-digit scoring and rebounding efforts. Since the Buffalo game on January 23, the night of her first career double-double, Thorp has led the Huskies in scoring and rebounding at a rate of 8.8 points and 7.3, respectively. The Hinckley, Ill. native is also third on the team in assists at 1.8 per game in the last six contests.

While NIU may have an 8-13 record this season and a 4-7 mark in the Mid-American Conference, the Huskies have been playing superb defense and have kept themselves in position for wins over the latest stretch of conference games. Owning the second-best scoring defense mark in the conference this season, NIU is only surrendering 62.4 points per game, six points behind Bowling Green’s top-mark of 56.3. The Huskies own a five point lead over third-place Buffalo, who is surrendering 67.5 points per game through 22 games. On the offensive end of the floor, Northern Illinois is scoring 61.2 points per game this season, a margin of only -1.2.

Junior Amanda Corral is under 50 points away from 1,000 in her career, and becoming the 26th player in program history to reach the landmark point. Heading into the Ball State game, Corral is 35 points shy of 1,000 and becoming the first player since Marke Freeman (2008-11) to join the Huskie sorority on January 8, 2011 versus Central Michigan. Corral is averaging 13.6 points per game this season.

Junior forward Natecia Augusta has placed herself amongst the top-10 in the Mid-American Conference in blocked shots this season as she has accumulated 10 blocks in MAC contests. Three-times, she has blocked three shots in a game, last doing so against Ball State on February 9. For the season, the Peoria, Ill. native has 16, an average of 0.8 per game, and is tied for eighth in the MAC in blocked shots per game. In the last 11 games, she has racked up 10 blocks.

The Huskies have had their tendencies this season and scoring down in the paint has been a strength of the team. Through 21 games this year, NIU has averaged 24 points in the paint per game. 16 times this season Northern Illinois has accumulated 20-or-more points and has scored 30-or-more three times. The Huskies best performance of the year occurred December 21 versus Northern Iowa, scoring 42 points.

In the Huskies last four meetings with Buffalo, NIU is 0-4 versus the Bulls, including one postseason meeting. Northern Illinois has played well against the Bulls in those contests but has been unable to clinch victory. While UB has outscored the Huskies an average of 60-49, NIU has committed fewer turnovers than the Bulls in those contests, 72-70, and is only two field goals shy of equalling Buffalo. The biggest difference in the series over the last four games has come at the free throw line, as the Bulls have outscored the Huskies, 80-42, averaging 28.3 free throw attempts per game.

Sophomore Alexis Lindstrom has been heating up behind the three-point line over the last three games for the Huskies. Versus Western Michigan, Akron and Ball State, Lindstrom has shot .400 behind the arc, draining 8-of-20 shots attempted. Heading into this run of good form, Lindstrom only made 3-of-12 shots attempted in the previous five games.

In the last four games, redshirt junior Danny Pulliam has made at least one three point field goal for the Huskies. She is 6-for-11 (.545) from behind the arc in that time as well.

Over the last three games against Buffalo, Amanda Corral is Northern Illinois’ leading scorer, as she is averaging 10.0 points per game versus the Bulls.

NIU has had trouble getting to the free throw line over the last six game. However, if the Huskies get there, they’re in good shape. In that stretch, Northern Illinois is shooting .686 from the charity stripe but only averaging 11.6 free throw attempts per game, while opponents are getting to the ine 22.5 times per game. If the Huskies were to go to the line 22.5 times, shooting .686 from the free throw line, NIU would be outscoring its opponents at the line, 16-15, and in the game, 62-59, as the Huskies would double its point output from the line from eight points to 16.

When comparing players scoring rates at home versus on the road, there are subtle differences on the NIU squad -- all except for junior Danny Pulliam. For those that know Pulliam, this shouldn’t come as a surprise as her toughness drives her competitive fire and makes her the point guard that she is. The Huskies have played 10 games at home and 10 games on the road this season and Pulliam is the only player on the Northern Illinois roster to score more points on the road than she does at the NIU Convocation Center. The Indianapolis, Ind., native averages 11.0 points on the road, compared to 8.8 at home.

Freshman Jazmine Harris has scored in double-figures four times this season and she’s also scored one or fewer five times this season. On two of those one or zero point efforts, Harris has followed up with Incredible Huk-like double-digit scoring games. After a zero point effort at South Dakota State, the West Allis, Wis., native scored a career-high 15 points versus Northern Iowa and after only scoring on one free throw, she added 14 versus Eastern Michigan. Only once has she not scored more than eight points after a one or zero point effort. For the Huskie faithful, this hopefully this is a sign of things to come for Harris this week.

The Huskies have done a nice job on the road this season maintaining ball possession over their opponents, only committing 137 turnovers to their opponents 147 (+10), an average of 13.7 to 14.7 a game.

Jenna Thorp’s grit and determination to cleanup the glass for NIU in Mid-American Conference games has been well documented and opposing teams can attest that fact as well. Over the last nine games, she has pulled down an average of 3.0 offensive rebounds a game, highlighted by a back-to-back five rebound performances at Miami and versus Buffalo. With 36 offensive rebounds already with at least eight games remaining, .371 percent of her rebounding total this season, Thorp has already equalled her performance from last season and is only nine offensive rebounds shy of setting a new season-high in offensive boards.

Freshmen Jazmine Harris and Ally Lehman have been big contributors for the Huskies all season long. While they have taken their licks and suffered growing pains at times, they have combined for 11.1 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. Lehman has secured a double-double this season and Harris has scored 10-or-more points four times. Lehman and Harris are fourth and fifth on the team in scoring, respectively, and Lehman is second on the team in assists with 2.2 per game.

This season, the Huskies have held three opponents scoreless from behind the three-point line. NIU has held two MAC opponents, Ohio and Kent State, without a three-point field goal and had its best performance at Illinois State on December 5, holding the Redbirds 0-for-11. Northern Illinois is second in the Mid-American Conference in three-point field goal defense in 2013-14, only allowing its foes to shoot .287 through 21 games. Bowling Green leads the conference with a clip of .268.

Through 21 games this season junior Danny Pulliam has 65 assists. As a freshman in 2010-11, Pulliam accounted for a career-high 61 assists that season in 30 appearances. The last time out versus Ball State, Pulliam recorded four helpers to set a new career-high for assists in a season. She now has 150 in her career.

The Huskies will head back on the road Wednesday, February 19 for a contest at Akron, starting at 6 p.m. Central. It will be NIU’s final road game before a two contest home stand versus Central Michigan and Toledo February 22 and 27, respectively.



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