Feb. 24, 2012
Northern Illinois Huskies (12-14, 6-8 MAC) at Toledo Rockets (18-8, 11-3 MAC)
Date: Saturday, February 23, 2012
Tipoff: 3:30 PM CT
Location: Savage Arena
Radio: WLBK 1360-AM DeKalb - Andy Garcia on the call
Live Stats: UTRockets.com
Northern Illinois plays its 15th road game of the year with its 40th all-time meeting against Toledo.
A Look at Toledo
Toledo enters the game off of a loss at Eastern Michigan that snapped a 10-game winning streak and let EMU take sole possession of first place in the MAC West. Since opening the season 7-6, the Rockets have gone 11-2. The Rockets average 63.3 points per game and give up 57.0. They are shooting 42.7 percent from the field and allow opponents to shoot 36.5 percent. Toledo has been without reigning MAC Player of the Year Naama Shafir for all but four games this season and features three scorers that average double figures in Andola Dortch (13.2 PPG), Courtney Ingersoll (11.4 PPG), and Yolanda Richardson (10.2 PPG).
Last Time Versus Toledo
The two teams last met in DeKalb on Jan. 14, and the Rockets won 49-47. NIU stayed right with the preseason MAC West favorites and never trailed by for than five points. NIU had a late, 47-46 lead in the game but it was erased by a fade-away jumper by Andola Dortch with 21 seconds left. The Huskies then had a few chances to win it but didn't get the ball to go in the basket as Claire Jakubicek and Satavia Taylor both missed potential game-winning shots. Yolanda Richardson led UT with 16 points, while Jakubicek led NIU with 15.
NIU vs UT Revisited
The loss for NIU back on Jan. 14 was its six 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 ... In the five games prior to the loss, NIU had been averaging 21.8 turnovers per game but only had 12 turnovers.
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.
Looking to Clinch a First Round Home Game
NIU needs to win one of its last two games to clinch hosting a first round MAC Tournament home game on March 3. If NIU loses both remaining games, it will more than likely come down to tiebreakers to determine if the Huskies will host or not.
Different Circumstances, Same Result
When NIU and Central Michigan first met this season on Jan. 5 in DeKalb, CMU had won six of its last seven games and NIU had lost three of its last five -- and CMU won. In the rematch on Wednesday in Mount Pleasant, Mich., NIU entered the game with six wins in its last nine games and CMU had seven losses in its last nine -- and unfortunately, the Chippewas came out on top again, 73-50.
CMU's Rare Half
The main difference in the game was CMU's 41-point first half that gave the Chippewas a 41-27 lead at the half. NIU has only surrendered 40 or more points in the first half three times this season and all three resulted in losses.
Bennett Under the Weather
NIU Head Coach Kathi Bennett was absent from NIU's 77-57 loss to EMU at the NIU Convocation Center last Saturday due to sickness. NIU Associate Head Coach Marsha Frese served as acting head coach. Bennett was back on the sideline versus the Chippewas.
Defense Dismantled a Bit
During NIU's last two losses, it has given up more than 70 points each time. Only one other time this season has NIU given up 70 in two straight games and that was to start the season off with a 73-42 loss at Loyola and 91-84 double overtime win at home over Western Illinois.
Tay on Display
Satavia Taylor has scored eight points in each of the last two games. In the five games prior, she had scored a total of 13 points.
In three of the last four games, Courtney Shelton has scored in double figures, which is the most times she's scored 10-plus in any four-game stretch this season. Of her 35 points, 14 have come from the free throw line as she is 14-for-15 from the charity stripe over her last four contests.
So She Wants to be a Coach
In conjunction with the NCAA Women's Final Four and the Women's Basketball Coaches Association in Denver, Colo., senior Courtney Shelton will partake in the WBCA's So You Want To Be A Coach program. Shelton will get to participate in a coaching workshop and get professional development and career advancement through education, skills enhancement, networking and exposure as a member of the program. In order to be eligible for the program, a player must be in the final year of eligibility at a four-year institution or have graduated within the past year, must want to pursue a career in coaching, must be a credit to the sport both on and off the court, must be nominated by her head coach, must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5, and must be able to attend all three days of the program.
Eagles Flew to High
EMU (6) and NIU (3) both entered last Saturday's game on winning streaks but it was the Eagles who kept theirs alive thanks to a 44.8 percent shooting performance from the field in a 77-57 win. EMU was just the sixth team all season to score in the 70s and the seventh to shoot above 40 percent.
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. In what could be her final game against her former team, Davis went off for a career-high 26 points. 14 of the points came off her career-day at the line as she was 14-for-15. The last time a Huskie scored 26 or more points was on Feb. 1, 2011, when Marke Freeman scored 26 against Bowling Green.
Over the last five games, Kim Davis is averaging 15.6 points and 5.6 rebounds per game while shooting 56.4 percent from the field and 77.7 percent from the free throw line.
Free Throw Show
With a team percentage of 72.3 from the free throw line, NIU ranks fourth in the MAC and 69th in the nation as of Feb. 23.
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 on Feb. 16. The last time NIU ran off a three-game winning streak was Nov. 14-19, 2010.
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.
Distributing All Over the Court
Over the last five games, Courtney Shelton has 34 assists and only 15 turnovers. She leads the team with 89 assists, which are a new single season high for her. Shelton's 1.1 assist-to-turnover ratio is good for fifth in the MAC and her 3.6 assists per game are good for seventh as of Feb. 23.
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 the 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.
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.
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.
As of Feb. 23, NIU ranks third in the MAC in opponent field goal percentage (37.4) and second in opponent three-point percentage (28.9). The Huskies are 11-8 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 (59.5 PPG).
With rebounding margin of +3.4, NIU ranks fourth in the MAC and 77th in the NCAA as of Feb. 23. NIU's 72.3 percent defensive rebounding clip is second 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 host the last game of the regular season against Western Michigan on Tuesday, Feb. 28, at 7 PM CT.