March 1, 2011
|Northern Illinois (12-16, 6-8 MAC) at Ball State (9-19, 4-11 MAC)
||Wednesday, March 2, 2011 6 p.m. (CST)
||Muncie, Ind. Worthern Arena
| On the Air
||Huskie All-Access (Live Audio) 1360 WLBK (DeKalb, Tape Delay)
NIU Game Notes | Ball State Game Notes | Live Stats
| All-Time Series
||Ball State leads 24-14
| Bennett Versus
||Bennett is 5-0 against Ball State
DeKALB - The Northern Illinois women's basketball team tries to close out the Mid-American Conference regular season on a high note when the Huskies (12-16, 6-9 MAC) travel to Muncie, Ind. to face Ball State (9-19, 4-11 MAC), Wednesday, March 2 at 6 p.m. With a win, the Huskies guarantee themselves a first-round home game in the MAC Tournament.
The Huskies will try to carry the momentum of a 57-53 upset over the regular season MAC Champion Toledo into Muncie. Seniors Marke Freeman and Ebony Ellis led the way in their final regular season game at home, combining for 41 points and 20 rebounds.
If the MAC Tournament started today, NIU would finish as the eighth seed and would host Western Michigan in the first round. The Huskies could also see Ball State in the first round, and there is a small chance NIU could host Ohio. With a win and an Akron loss at Kent State, the Huskies would finish in seventh, two seeds better than last year.
Can't Miss This
After leading her team to an upset of MAC Champion Toledo, senior Ebony Ellis has been named MAC West Women's Basketball Player of the Week. Ellis scored 19 points and grabbed a season-high 16 rebounds in the Huskies' 57-53 win over the Rockets. Toledo trailed by only two with 3:05 left when Ellis took over. She put back an NIU miss, blocked a shot, and made another lay-up in the span of 43 seconds to give NIU a six-point lead with 2:22 left.
Key Number: 39
Senior Ebony Ellis has scored 39 points in her last two games. Ellis put up 20 against Western Michigan, willing the Huskies to overtime before an eventual two-point loss. Four days later, Ellis poured 19 points on MAC Champion Toledo, spearheading NIU's 57-53 Senior Day upset of the Rockets.
Before the Huskies started the final third of the MAC season, head coach Kathi Bennett handed out wristbands to her players that say "FINISH STRONG". NIU has taken the message to heart, capturing wins over MAC West leaders Toledo and Central Michigan since then. In the last two games, seniors Ebony Ellis and Marke Freeman have spearheaded the cause. Ellis averaged 19.5 points and 15.0 rebounds, and Freeman averaged 20.5 points and 3.5 rebounds last week.
No OT Hangovers Here
Northern Illinois has played three overtime games this season, most recently a 72-70 setback at Western Michigan last Tuesday. In the games following their other two OT match-ups, the Huskies are 3-0, with wins over Ohio, Central Michigan and Toledo by a combined 26 points.
Three of a Kind
Marke Freeman is only the third player in NIU history to average at least 14.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.0 steals per game for her career. The other two are current assistant coach E.C. Hill and Stephanie Raymond. Both Hill and Raymond went on to play professionally in the WNBA and overseas.
Ebony Ellis has 969 career points, just 31 off from 1,000. Ellis would need to average 15.5 points per game over the Huskies' two guaranteed contests to reach the milestone before the end of the year. Marke Freeman passed 1,000 earlier this season, and if Ellis joins her in the esteemed club, it would be the first time two Huskies passed the milestone in one season since Kristan Knake and Jennifer Youngblood did so in the 2002-03 season.
Defense Locking On
NIU has held opponents to 40 percent shooting 14 times this year. The Huskies are 8-6 in those games. NIU has limited its opponents to less than 40 percent shooting in all but three MAC games. League opponents are shooting just 36.6 percent, third best in the MAC, and scoring only 60.9 points per game, also third in the league.
NIU stands as the most accurate 3-point shooting team in the MAC, and the fifth-best 3-point shooting team in the nation. The Huskies have hit 38.5 percent of their attempts from distance, including knocking in 4-of-5 (80.0 percent) and 5-of-7 (71.4 percent) against UNI and SIU, respectively.