Huskies Host Toledo in Thursday Morning Showdown

GO HUSKIES Jazmine Harris scored 14 points off the bench last time out versus Central Michigan
Jazmine Harris scored 14 points off the bench last time out versus Central Michigan

Feb. 26, 2014

NIU-Toledo Notes Get Acrobat Reader

Game 25 - vs Toledo (DeKalb, Ill.)
Thursday, February 27 (11:30 a.m.)
Live Stats:
Video: NIUTube
Radio: NIUTube (11:15 a.m. pregame)
Play-by-Play: Andy Garcia
Twitter: @NIUscores

The Northern Illinois women’s basketball team will host its final February home contest Thursday, February 27 when the Huskies host MAC West rival Toledo. Tipoff is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Central time at the NIU Convocation Center.

It’s a full morning of promotions and appreciation at the NIU Convocation Center Thursday morning versus Toledo. The Huskies are holding Faculty/Staff Appreciation Day for the game, inviting all Northern Illinois University faculty and staff to the game with two tickets complimentary of NIU Athletics. Tickets can be claimed with a printed email invitation from NIU Director of Athletics Sean Frazier. The Convocation Center will also be offering $5 lunch specials at its concession stands with “5 Deals for $5”. All baskets, listed below, include fries and a 24 ounce fountain drink (except pizza lunch):
Cheeseburger Basket
Hot Dog Basket
Popcorn Chicken Basket
Pizza Slice & Drink
Popcorn, Concession Candy, Drink

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.

Northern Illinois began a two-game home stretch Saturday, February 22 when it hosted Central Michigan, in conjunction with its Alumnae Night celebration. The Huskies had revenge on their mind at the Convocation Center after falling to the Chippewas, the MAC-West’s top-team in Mt. Pleasant, 65-60. NIU and CMU went back in forth in the period with each exchanging ties and leads. The Huskies trailed the Chips at halftime, 34-33, after CMU-star Crystal Bradford made a free throw in the final seconds of the half. NIU led by as-much-as nine points in the period, thanks to Amanda Corral’s 11-points in the frame.

The Huskies continued to battle with the Chippewas as both teams attacked the paint, combining for 76 points in the contest. Central Michigan was able to draw fouls in the post and was able to reach the free throw line, attempting 26 shots from the line in the second half after only reaching the charity stripe four times in the first half. NIU was unable to overcome the Chippewas in the contest and fell, 85-77. Five Huskies scored in double-digits, the second time this season NIU accomplished the feat. Corral led NIU scorers with 23 points and also became the 26th Huskie to reach the 1,000 point mark in her Northern Illinois career. CMU’s Bradford led the game with 29 points.

Thursday’s game will be the second meeting this season between Northern Illinois and Toledo. NIU last played the Rockets on January 9 at Savage Arena in Toledo, Ohio, both team’s second Mid-American Conference game of the 2013-14 season. The first half was controlled by the Rockets as they built an 18 point lead in the period and carried a 40-26 lead after the first stanza. After only shooting .357 from the field in the first half, the Huskies improved by over 20 percent as they shot .563 from the field (18-of-32) in the second period to outscore the Rockets in the frame, 45-33.

With under two minutes remaining, Northern Illinois flirted with the UT lead as Amanda Corral hit two free throws with 1:51 remaining in the game to make it, 69-66, Toledo. As each team traded baskets, NIU stopped UT’s last chance at a shot with nine seconds remaining, which gave the Huskies the opportunity to force overtime, trailing the Rockets, 73-71. As NIU quickly moved the ball up the court, point guard Danny Pulliam drove to the basket with only seconds left, throwing a layup off the backboard, that slowly rolled off the rim and landed into the lap of Ally Lehman as the buzzer sounded to end the game. Corral finished the game with 20 points, 14 of which occurred in the second half. Toledo closed the game 23-of-27 from the free throw line with Andola Dortch pacing the Rockets at the line (7-of-9), in points (17) and in assists (8).

Toledo sits at 13-12 this season with an 8-6 mark in the Mid-American Conference entering Thursday morning’s affair. After trading wins and losses at the start of the conference season, the Rockets have been on a hot streak and in the hunt for a first round bye in the MAC Tournament as they have won four of their last five games. On February 23, UT fell to Western Michigan at Savage Arena, 60-59, as the Rockets attempted to overcome a three-point deficit with 47 seconds left, but fell two points shy of overtaking the Broncos in the contest. In its recent run of good form, Toledo was 3-0 on the road as it grinded out victories at Miami, Kent State and Eastern Michigan.

The Rockets possess a dangerous offensive lineup as four players average 10-or-more points per game with Inma Zanoguera pacing the team with 14.5 points per game. Zanoguera also leads UT in rebounding at a clip of 8.4 boards per game. Point guard Andola Dortch is second on the team in scoring with 12.3 points per game but is distributing 5.5 assists per game to top all players on the Rockets roster. As a team this season, Toledo has been consistent game-in and game-out getting to the free throw line, averaging 21.1 free throws per game and converting those shots at a rate over 70 percent (.705).

On February 22 versus Central Michigan, Northern Illinois converted 31 field goals against the Chippewas -- a brand new season-high for NIU. The Huskies also set a new high for field goals in a half, accounting for 19 in the second period against the Chips en route to a 44-point period.

Last time out against CMU, the Huskies accounted for 44 points in the second half of the game, the eighth time NIU has scored 40-or-more points in a half. While it's not always the route to victory for Northern Illinois, it has proven to show more success for the Huskies as they are 5-3 when scoring 40-or-more points in the first or second half of games. NIU has scored only once scored more than 40 points in the first half of a game, doing so in the home-opener versus Mississippi Valley State on November 12, when NIU defeated the Devillettes, 79-60. The Huskies only losses when accomplishing the feat have been to MAC foes Akron, Central Michigan and Toledo.

NIU had five players reach double-figures against Central Michigan on February 22, marking the second time this season that Northern Illinois had accomplished the feat, last doing so against Ohio in the MAC-opener on January 4. It was the first time since 2006-07 that Northern Illinois had two games with five scorers in double-digits as the Huskies did so January 1, 2007 versus Cincinnati and again on January 17, 2007 at Bradley.

Versus the Chippewas last Saturday, three starters and two NIU bench players reached the plateau, while four starters and one bench player reached the mark against the Bobcats in the conference-opener. Jazmine Harris and Ashley Sneed led the Huskie bench with 14 and 12 points, respectively, while Amanda Corral paced the lineup with 23 points. Natecia Augusta and Jenna Thorp each added 12 points.

As discussed in the previous note, the last time Northern Illinois had five scorers reach double figures in two games prior to this season was in 2006-07. That season, the Huskies made a run in the Mid-American Conference Tournament as they reached the tournament semifinals at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio before falling to Ball State, 83-72. Fast forwarding to 2014, the Huskies are within reach of hosting a first round contest in the Mid-American Conference Tournament as they currently sit in ninth place in the MAC. The Nos. 5-8 teams in the conference host the first round games of the MAC Tournament while the top-four seeds earn a first round bye in the tournament, automatically starting their postseason in Cleveland.

Over the last two games, the Huskies have averaged 76.0 points per game, NIU’s best two-game average of the season since November 29 and 30 at New Mexico State and against Lamar in the Aggie Hotel Encanto Thanksgiving Classic. In the Huskies recent scoring spell, they amassed 75 points at Akron and accounted for 77 versus Central Michigan while accounting for 73 against the Aggies and 79 versus the Cardinals in November.

The Huskies are playing their fourth return game of the Mid-American Conference season Thursday versus Toledo, after starting their return schedule February 15 at Buffalo. After going 4-7 in its first round of games, NIU is 0-3 in return games thus far. As junior Natecia Augusta put it in an interview before the Central Michigan on January 15, “one of our goals this season is to at least one game versus each of our conference opponents, or win both.” While NIU will have to wait until the MAC Tournament to accomplish that feat versus Akron, Buffalo and Central Michigan, NIU will have the chance to finish strong with a potential to finish 4-3 in return games versus Toledo, Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan and Ball State.

Entering Northern Illinois’ game against Central Michigan on February 22, junior Amanda Corral only needed four points to reach the 1,000-point mark in her decorated three year career in DeKalb. 3:25 into the Huskies contest versus CMU, the guard scored her 1,000th point as she hit a jump shot inside the paint to reach 1,000 career points. She eventually ended with 23 points, surpassing the 20-point mark for the sixth time this season. Corral became the 26th member of the 1,000-point club at Northern Illinois and the first since Marke Freeman (2008-11) on January 8, 2011 versus Central Michigan to reach the career milestone.

In her fourth year at the helm of the Northern Illinois women’s basketball program, Head Coach Kathi Bennett has found the best combination of offense and defense, based on averages. This year’s squad is the Huskies top-offensive unit under Bennett -- averaging 62.3 points per game -- five points higher than the previous-best mark on offense, set in her first season (2010-11). While 64.6 points is the highest point total allowed by a Bennett squad in her time at NIU, it is the second-lowest total allowed in the Mid-American Conference this season behind Bowling Green’s 56.8 average. NIU owns its best shooting percentage under Bennett this season with an average of .408 and the squad’s lowest turnover average at 13.3 turnovers per outing, almost four few turnovers per game than the best average.

The Huskies have had their tendencies this season and scoring down in the paint has been a strength of the team. Through 24 games this year, NIU has averaged 25 points in the paint per game. 19 times this season Northern Illinois has accumulated 20-or-more points and has scored 30-or-more four times. The Huskies had their second-best performance in the paint last time out against Central Michigan as they scored 40 points in the post. NIU’s top-outing of the year occurred December 21 versus Northern Iowa, scoring 42 points.

Sophomore Alexis Lindstrom has been hot behind the three-point line over the last five games for the Huskies. Versus Western Michigan, Akron, Ball State and Buffalo, Lindstrom has shot .411 behind the arc, draining 14-of-34 shots attempted. Heading into this run of good form, Lindstrom only made 3-of-12 shots attempted in the previous five games.

The Huskies will hit the road for its final two road games of the regular season, starting with a contest at Eastern Michigan on Sunday, March 2. Tipoff between NIU and the Eagles will begin at 1 p.m. Central.



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