Feb. 27, 2009
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DEKALB, Ill. - The Northern Illinois University women's basketball team looks to get back in the win column when the Huskies welcome Central Michigan to the Convocation Center Saturday.
Tip off for the Huskies and Chippewas is 5 p.m. Fans can follow all the action live on 1360 WLBK with Bill Baker on the call and on the Internet via Gametracker at www.niuhuskies.com. For tickets, contact the NIU ticket office at 815-752-6800 or log on to www.niuhuskies.com.
The Huskies (13-13, 8-5) suffered a 72-68 setback to Toledo Tuesday night at home. Leading the way for NIU were Marke Freeman (Springfield, Ill./Lanphier) and Aileen Rossouw (Plano, Texas/Plano). Freeman scored a team-high 16 points, while Rossouw who posted her second-straight double double with 15 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
Central Michigan (15-12, 7-6), the MAC's top-scoring offense, comes into play having lost three of its last five. The Chippewas posted a 64-60 victory at Western Michigan Wednesday night. CMU has four players averaging in double figures with Britni Houghton leading the way with 17 points a game.
As always, rebounding will play a key factor in the Huskies' ability to be successful. Northern Illinois is the top rebounding team in the conference, leading the MAC in rebounding offense and rebounding margin. Ebony Ellis (Joliet, Ill./Joliet Township), who averages 8.7 boards a game is second in the league in rebounding to Central Michigan's Kaihla Szunko, who averages 9.6 rebounds a game.
"They're a good scoring team," NIU head coach Carol Owens said. "We've got to contain them. That's something we worked on in practice this week. We've just got to stick with our defensive principles."
Four Huskies finished in double figures with Jessie Wilcox (Oshkosh, Wis./West) leading all scorers with 18 points as NIU opened MAC play with a 75-70 victory over the Chippewas in Mt. Pleasant, Mich. the first time these two met. Ellis was right behind her with 17 points and nine rebounds. At the time, the Chippewas were the top-scoring offense in the league and the Huskies held them to their lowest point total of the season.
Saturday's game with Central Michigan is Senior Day. Four members of the NIU women's basketball team, Rossouw, Becky Smith (Janesville, Wis./Parker), Shari' Welton (Calumet City, Ill./Thornwood) and Wilcox, will be playing in front of the home crowd for the final time Saturday. Rossouw and Welton are wrapping up two-year careers as Huskies. They transferred to NIU in 2006 from Auburn and Wisconsin respectively.
Smith and Wilcox have been in the program for four years and both have played in more than 100 games for the Huskies. Smith leads the Huskies in blocks this season with 22 and is 15th on NIU's career blocks list with 59. Wilcox has scored 964 points and is currently fifth on Northern Illinois' all-time list for three point field goals made with 142 and ranks 13th on the school's all-time assists list with 298.
"They have been model seniors," Owens said. "Our seniors have been our hardest workers. I'm really proud of what they've accomplished both in the classroom and on the court."
Saturday's game is the second of two games at the Convo tomorrow. The men take on Ball State at 2 p.m. A ticket to the men's game is also good for admission to the women's game and vice versa. NIU's Full Court Package is also available for both games. Fans will receive four tickets, four hot dogs and four sodas for $25.