DeKALB - The Northern Illinois women’s basketball team (9-15, 3-9 MAC) eyes back-to-back wins at the Convocation Center when it hosts Toledo, Saturday, Feb. 20 at 3 p.m. in the annual Pink Zone game. NIU joins over 1,200 school with a WBCA Pink Zone game, a national effort to raise awareness of breast cancer and raise funds for research.
Northern Illinois is 14-21 against the Rockets since the teams first met in 1981. In DeKalb, the Huskies hold a 9-7 edge, but lost to the Rockets when the teams last met in the Barb City. That night, then-freshman Naama Shafir scored a team-high 17 points to lead Toledo to a 72-68 win.
LAST TIME AGAINST TOLEDO
The Huskies stormed back from a 12 point deficit to take a three point lead, but ultimately fell to Toledo, 71-66, at Savage Arena.
The game, both teams’ conference opener, saw six lead changes and two ties over the last seven minutes. The Huskies took their first lead 56-55 with 6:49 left, and led by three points on the strength of an Ebony Ellis lay-up with 3:28 remaining.
Toledo answered with a 7-0 spurt that included a transition three-pointer by Jessica Williams and a steal followed by lay-up on the fast break by Courtney Ingersoll. The run put the Rockets up four points with 54 seconds remaining.
The Huskies overcame a poor start, missing their first four shots from the field, committing three fouls and turning the ball over twice in the opening three minutes. The rocky opening allowed the Rockets to jump out to an 8-0 lead. Junior Marke Freeman connected on back-to-back baskets to cut the lead to three, but Toledo built its advantage to as many as 12 in the first half thanks to 55.6 percent shooting from the field.
Northern Illinois fought back and Mauvolyene Adams tied the game at 33 on a jumper, accounting for two of her 16 points. Adams ended the night with her seventh double-double of the season, tying her career high with 12 rebounds. But the Rockets finished the half with a 7-0 run to take a 40-33 lead into halftime.
Toledo was whistled for three fouls in the first, the NIU did not attempt a free throw in the period. The Huskies tallied seven fouls over the opening 20 minutes, sending Toledo to the line eight times in which they totaled five makes.
The Rockets carried the lead through much of the second half, until an 8-1 NIU burst highlighted by a Kylie York three-pointer and capped by Adams’ free throws put NIU up for the first time.
Freeman led NIU with 22 points, her third 20-point game of the season, and added a career-high nine assists with six rebounds and five steals. Ellis, who faced double and triple teams much of the night, also landed in double-figures, totaling 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting.
Forward Tanika Mays paced the Rockets with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Melissa Goodall added 16, and Naama Shafir scored 11 to go with five assists, four steals and four rebounds.
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. Home games can also be watched online www.niuhuskies.com.
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 8.2 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. Rogers grabbed her first career double-double with an 11-point, 10-rebound performance at Central Michigan.
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 19 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 962 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 7.8 points per game over the Huskies’ final six games. York is currently averaging 8.9 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 7.7 boards per game. At just 5-5, Freeman ranks 16th with 5.6 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 15 games. After averaging 2.4 assists for the first nine games of the year, she’s dished out 70 assists in the last 15 match-ups (4.3 per game). That total includes a career-best nine-assist night against Toledo. Her rebounding is also up, from 3.7 to 5.5 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 10th in the MAC in blocked shots with 12 in league play. The rookie has blocked three shots in a game three times this season, most recently against Akron. She is averaging 2.6 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 fourth in the league in MAC play with 4.3 assists per game.
Marke Freeman leads the MAC in steals with 2.7 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 Huskies have totaled 17 double-doubles in 24 games this season. Forward Mauvolyene Adams has totaled 10, while center Ebony Ellis has registered at least 10 and 10 in five of the 14 games she has appeared in. Marke Freeman added her name to the double-double decadence with 25 points and a career-high 12 rebounds against Kent State. Sarah Rogers is the latest Huskie to achieve the feat, securing 11 points and 10 rebounds against Central Michigan for her first double-double.
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.