Feb. 17, 2012
Northern Illinois Huskies (12-12, 6-6 MAC) vs. Eastern Michigan Eagles (18-7, 10-2 MAC)
NIU-EMU Game Notes
Date: Saturday, February 18, 2012
Tipoff: 3:00 PM CT
Location: DeKalb, Ill. | NIU Convocation Center
Radio: WLBK 1360-AM DeKalb - Andy Garcia and Ethel Gregory on the call
Promotion: $5 pink Huskie t-shirts in conjunction with Colleges Against Cancer
Live Stats: NIUHuskies.com
Northern Illinois plays its 13th home game of the year with its 37th all-time meeting against Eastern Michigan.
A Look at Eastern Michigan
Eastern Michigan enters the game on a six-game winning streak. Since losing five of eight games Dec. 3-Jan. 5, the Eagles have gone 10-1. The Eagles average 70.8 points per game and give up 57.9. They are shooting 41.3 percent from the field and allow opponents to shoot 39.4 percent. Eastern Michigan features three scorers that average double figures in Tavelyn James (24.6 PPG), who ranks second in the nation in scoring and leads the MAC, Natachia Watkins (12.2 PPG), and Paige Redditt (10.4 PPG).
Last Time Versus Eastern Michigan
The two teams last met in Ypsilanti, Mich., on Jan. 8, and the Eagles won 64-52. The Eagles jumped out to a 28-12 lead at the half due to 16 NIU turnovers and the Huskies were only able to shave four points off the deficit despite a 40-point second half. Paige Redditt led EMU with 17 points, while Satavia Taylor paced NIU with 14 points.
Danny Pulliam underwent successful knee surgery on Dec. 8. Pulliam will be out for the season with a torn meniscus and microfracture surgery in her right knee.
NIU at EMU Revisited
The loss for NIU back on Jan. 8 was its fourth in a row during a six-game losing streak at the time, which is the longest positive or negative stretch under Head Coach Kathi Bennett ... NIU's 12-point halftime total is the lowest of the season and lowest since scoring 12 in the same building last season on Feb. 19, 2011 ... The Huskies' 40 points in the second half is the fourth highest scoring half of the season.
Familiar Foe for Davis
Senior forward Kim Davis was a walk-on for the Eagles' in the 2008-09 campaign. She played 24 games and made 10 starts, averaging 1.0 points per game and 3.0 rebounds per game. She then transferred to NIU in 2009-10 as a student and found her way onto the roster for the 2010-11 NIU season. Davis is 0-3 against her former school. At home in a 79-63 loss to EMU on Jan. 5, 2011, Davis played 22 minutes off the bench, totaling four points, six assists and one steal. In a 62-35 road loss on Feb. 19, 2011, she started and played 35 minutes, compiling 11 points, 13 rebounds, and four assists. During NIU's 64-52 loss at EMU on Jan. 8, she posted two points and five rebounds in 18 minutes as a starter.
Back to .500
With the Ball State win on Thursday, NIU is now back to .500 overall for the first time since Dec. 31. The Huskies are also at .500 in MAC play for the first time since Jan. 12, 2010.
Three in a Row, Finally
The Huskies won back-to-back games four times prior to pulling through with a three-game winning streak in their fifth try with the Ball State win. The last time NIU ran off a three-game winning streak was Nov. 14-19, 2010.
Creeping up on the RedHawks
With four games left in the regular season -- two at home, two on the road -- NIU has moved into sole possession of fifth place overall in the MAC and third in the West. The Huskies are two games behind Miami (Ohio) for fourth place overall, which guarantees a bye into the MAC Tournament quarterfinals.
Bennett Beats Ball State Again
In 19 years as a head coach, Kathi Bennett has posted a 7-1 mark against Ball State, 3-1 with NIU.
Helping NIU to a 34-19 halftime lead in the Ball State win was having a trio score in double figures for the first time this season in a half. Claire Jakubicek led with 11, while Amanda Corral and Courtney Shelton had 10 apiece on a combined 7-for-7 shooting.
In the last two games, Jenna Thorp has come on quick with 13 points, nine rebounds, and three blocks while shooting 5-for-10 from the field. Her eight points versus Ball State were the most she's scored in a game since Dec. 11 at Chicago State when she had eight that day as well. In the eight games prior to her last two, she had scored six points total.
Distributing All Over the Court
Over the last three games, Courtney Shelton has 26 assists and only eight turnovers. She leads the team with 81 assists, which are already a new single season high for her.
In NIU's last three games -- all wins -- it has posted a 46.1 field goal percentage on 66-for-143 shooting. That's nearly 10 points higher than the Huskies' season field goal percentage of 38.1.
NIU's defense has really offended its opponent's offense over the last four games as no team has shot better than 39 percent or had more than 58 points.
Finding the Right Mix
Of the nine different starting lineups that NIU has used this season, the most recent group has proved to be a cut above. Over the last six games, NIU has started Courtney Shelton, Amanda Corral, Kim Davis, Alicia Johnson, and Claire Jakubicek and the Huskies have gone 5-1. Only two other lineups have been used more than twice this season and have produced a 2-2 and 1-3 record.
Wins vs. .500 Teams
Last Saturday's 70-58 win at Miami (Ohio) marked NIU's fifth win this season against a team entering the game with a .500 winning percentage or better. Overall, the Huskies are 5-10 against .500 teams in 2011-12.
Millett Hall Mallet
Miami's Millett Hall has not been friendly to NIU lately, and to any opponent this season except Bowling Green, but the Huskies changed that with one of their best all-around games of the season in last Saturday's win. The last time the Huskies won in Oxford was in 2008 -- a span of two games. Prior to the game, the RedHawks were 12-1 at home this season and had only lost to Bowling Green, who only has one loss in MAC play.
NIU held Miami to its lowest shooting percentage (31.6) since the RedHawks' season-opening loss at Temple and third lowest point total (58) of the season. The RedHawks entered the game averaging 70 points per contest and shooting 41.7 percent from the field. Miami's 16 points at halftime were the lowest total the RedHawks have had in any half this season.
Putting the O in Ohio
Against Miami in Oxford, Ohio, the Huskies eclipsed the 70-point mark for the fourth time and posted their second highest shooting percentage (54.3) of the season.
Seniors Set the Pace
Seniors Kim Davis and Courtney Shelton combined for 35 points, 15 assists, 12 rebounds, and only five turnovers in the Miami win. Davis had 22 points, two assists, five rebounds, and three turnovers. Shelton had 13 points, 13 assists, seven rebounds, two turnovers.
Shel of a Double-Double
Courtney Shelton's 13-point, 13-assist double-double against Miami was the first point-assist double-double for NIU since Marke Freeman did so on Feb. 20, 2010 against Toledo. Shelton's 13 assists were one away from tying the single-game program record set by Gena Stubbs in 1988. The last time a Huskie had 13 assists in a game was in 1986 (Val Leitzen). Shelton is now one of seven players in the history of the program to have a 10-plus-assist game. The double-double was the second of Shelton's career.
Revenge is Served
Last season, NIU took down Ohio in Athens during the regular season but fell at home 72-66 to the Bobcats in the first round of the MAC Tournament, ending Kathi Bennett's first season. In their first meeting since, the Huskies avenged the loss with a 50-46 win on Feb. 4 in DeKalb.
Courtney Shelton only took three shots against Ohio and scored no points for just the second time in the last two seasons -- a span of 51 games -- but she still found a way to have a large impact on the game. Try a career-best 11 rebounds and a then-season-high eight assists for nearly a pointless double-double.
Corral is in the Zone
Over the last six games, Amanda Corral has found a nice scoring groove. She's scored in double figures five times for an average of 12.6 points per game. She has also been very accurate, going 25-for-45 (55.5%) from the field, including 10-for-14 (71.4%) from three-point land. On the season, she is averaging 9.8 points per game and shooting 41.3 percent from the field and 40.4 percent from behind the arc.
No Flash in the Pan
Prior to the win over Kent State, NIU had not won a game against the Golden Flashes since 2006 -- a span of four games.
Threes to Victory
The Kent State win was fueled large in part by three-pointers as NIU established season highs in threes made and percentage by going 8-for-14 (57.1%). Courtney Shelton led the way with a 5-for-10 performance en route to a season- and game-high 23 points.
Good Rhode Win
Prior to the win at Akron, NIU had not won at Rhodes Arena since 2006. Fittingly, the last two win for the Huskies at Akron were on the same exact day -- January 25 -- one in 2006 and the other in 2012.
With NIU's win at Western Michigan on Jan. 19, a few streaks were ended. NIU stopped a four-game MAC losing streak and a six-game losing streak overall. The Huskies also put an end to WMU's six-game home MAC winning streak and a three-game winning streak against NIU.
Three scorers reached double-figures against Ball State, which marked the 10th time this season that NIU has had three or more players score 10-plus points. Claire Jakubicek led the way with 17. Amanda Corral and Courtney Shelton had 10 each. NIU is 8-2 when having three or more players score in double figures this season.
Home Court Advantage
The Huskies are 7-5 at home this year and are holding opponents to just 55.8 points per game, as opposed to the 60.5 points per game NIU allows on the road. NIU has also held opponents to a 36.3 field goal percentage at home, compared to a 37.7 percentage on the road.
As of Feb. 11, NIU ranks third in the MAC in opponent field goal percentage (37.1) and second in opponent three-point percentage (28.3). The Huskies are 11-7 when holding opponents under 40 percent shooting and are 8-3 when outshooting their foes. The Huskies also rank fourth in the MAC in scoring defense (58.8 PPG).
With rebounding margin of +4.3, NIU ranks third in the MAC and 60th in the NCAA as of Feb. 11. NIU's 73.2 percent defensive rebounding clip is tops in the league. The Huskies have outrebounded their opponents 18 times this year and are 12-6 when doing so.
Double-Double on the Marke
Amanda Corral's 16-point, 10-rebound double-double against Temple was the first by an NIU guard since last year's leading scorer Marke Freeman poured in 23 points and 17 boards in a 56-48 win at Ohio on Jan. 1, 2011.
Corral repeated the feat at Indiana Dec. 17 with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Corraling MAC West Player of the Week
In just her first seven days of collegiate action, freshman Amanda Corral has already caught the MAC's attention, garnering MAC West Player of the Week on Nov. 21st. Corral led NIU to a 2-0 record by averaging 13.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game.
Percent of Production Returning
The Huskies return seven players from last year, including three starters in Kim Davis, Danny Pulliam, and Courtney Shelton, and welcome seven newcomers. In terms of production, NIU returns 64 percent of its minutes, 49 percent of its points, 45 percent of its rebounds, 71 percent of its assists, 44 percent of its blocks, and 53 percent of its steals.
Bennett's Year 2 Success
In Year 2 of each of her three prior head coaching stops throughout her career, Bennett has posted a combined win-loss total of 44-38. Her Year 2 win total has been an increase from Year 1 in two of the three stops. Indiana was the only place she did not have an increase, as she led the Hoosiers to 17 wins after totaling 20 in her first season in Bloomington.
NIU Picked to Finish 4th in MAC West
The Mid-American Conference coaches and select media chose the Huskies to finish fourth in the West Division this year in the MAC Preseason Poll.
Huskies Ink Three on Signing Day
On signing day on Nov. 9, NIU received National Letters of Intent from forward McKenzie Hoelmenn (Lakeville, Minn./Lakeville North), guard Alexis Lindstrom (Howards Grove, Wis./Howards Grove), and forward Nichole Wittman (Hutchinson, Minn./Hutchinson), Hoelmenn is Max Preps' No. 3 player from Minnesota and No. 87 player in the nation. Max Preps ranks Wittman and Lindstrom No. 41 and No. 133 in their respective states.
For the fourth straight year, NIU's Graduation Success Rate (GSR) topped the 80 percent mark. With an 82 percent GSR, the Huskies sit two points above the four-class national average. The women's basketball team is one of four NIU programs to post a perfect 100 percent GSR as every freshman and transfer student-athlete who entered NIU between 2001-04 graduated.
NIU on TV
On Sunday, Jan. 8, 2012, NIU's contest at Eastern Michigan was televised by the Mid-American Conference's regional cable partner SportsTime Ohio. The game will be NIU's only scheduled regular season TV appearance.
On the Air
Every NIU basketball game of the 2011-12 season can be heard on the Northern Illinois Sports Network, Presented by IMG. Women's games home and away can be heard on 1360-AM WLBK and Huskie All-Access at NIUHuskies.com. Home games can also be watched live through Huskie All-Access. Andy Garcia and Ethel Gregory will be on the call.
Up Next for NIU
The Huskies open a mini, two-game road trip with a 6 PM CT meeting against Central Michigan on Wednesday, Feb. 22, in Mount Pleasant, Mich.