Huskies Host Western Michigan Saturday in MAC Tournament First Round

GO HUSKIES
GO HUSKIES

GO HUSKIES

March 2, 2012

Northern Illinois Huskies (12-16, 6-10 MAC) vs. Western Michigan Broncos (8-21, 5-11 MAC)

NIU-WMU Notes Get Acrobat Reader

Date: Saturday, March 3, 2012
Tipoff: 3:00 PM CT
Location: NIU Convocation Center
Radio: WLBK 1360-AM DeKalb - Andy Garcia and Ethel Gregory on the call
Live Stats: NIUHuskies.com

The Match-Up
Northern Illinois plays its 15th home game of the year with its 47th all-time meeting against Western Michigan.

Storylines
-Both teams' seasons are on the line in the first round of the 2012 FirstEnergy Mid-American Conference Tournament. The winner of the 12-team, single-elimination tournament will earn an automatic bid to the 2012 NCAA Tournament. With both NIU and WMU finishing seventh and 10th, respectively, in the MAC overall standings, both teams will need to win the MAC Tournament to reach the NCAA Tournament. The winner of this game will move on to Cleveland, Ohio, to face the winner of No. 6 Akron-No. 11 Buffalo at Quicken Loans Arena on March 7 at 1:30 PM CT in the second round.

-The teams just played each other on Tuesday, and WMU won in overtime 66-64 to create a rubbermatch in the season series with the ultimate prize at stake -- ending the other team's season. NIU won at WMU on Jan. 19 in a 53-41 decision. WMU returned the favor at NIU on Tuesday. NIU and WMU have never met in the MAC Tournament.

-NIU will be looking for its first win in the MAC Tournament since March 6, 2007. That day, NIU topped Kent State 72-68 in the quarterfinals at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NIU is 6-14 all-time in the MAC Tournament and 25-27 overall in postseason play. NIU Head Coach Kathi Bennett is 0-1 in the MAC Tournament and 25-15 overall in postseason play.

Tickets
Tickets can be purchased on NIUHuskies.com and by phone (815-752-6800). Lower bowl tickets are $8, general admission is $6, and senior citizen (62 & older) and youth (8th grade & under) tickets are $4.

A Look at Western Michigan
WMU enters the game off of a 66-64 overtime win at the NIU Convocation Center Tuesday. Since winning back-to-back games on Jan 5 & 8, the Broncos have lost 11 of their last 14 games. The Broncos average 62.7 points per game and give up 71.6. They are shooting 38.0 percent from the field and allow opponents to shoot 42.0 percent. WMU features one scorer that average double figures in Maria Iaquaniello (13.0 PPG).

Last Time Versus Western Michigan
The two teams last met in DeKalb on Tuesday night, and the Broncos won 66-64 in overtime. NIU used a 9-0 run to open the second half and overcome a 27-22 halftime deficit. The Huskies led 52-46 with 4:02 left but WMU rallied to take a 57-53 lead with under 30 seconds left. Satavia Taylor then scored on a left-handed drive with 12 seconds left. WMU threw the inbound pass out of bounds thanks to pressure by Jenna Thorp. Taylor came through again with a left-handed drive to tie the game with nine seconds left. In overtime, WMU built another late four-point lead and NIU was unable to overcome it. Aurielle Anderson led WMU with 29 points. Satavia Taylor paced the Huskies with 20.

NIU vs WMU Revisited
The win for WMU on Tuesday pushed NIU from the No. 6 seed in the MAC Tournament to the No. 7 seed ... It also spoiled Senior Night for Kim Davis and Courtney Shelton ... Aurielle Anderson scored all nine points for WMU in overtime.

Injury Update
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 ... Claire Jakubicek is out for the rest of the season with a broken right foot, which occurred on Feb. 16 at home against Ball State ... Ashley Sneed is day-to-day with a sprained left knee.

Regular Season Complete
NIU finished the MAC regular season in fourth place in the West Division and seventh place overall for the second straight season in Year Two under Kathi Bennett. NIU was picked fourth in the MAC Preseason Poll.

Home, Not-So-Sweet Home
The season series between NIU and WMU has not been friendly to the home team. The 53-41 win for NIU back on Jan. 19 in Kalamazoo, Mich., snapped a six-game losing streak for the Huskies, a three-game losing streak against the Broncos, and ended WMU's six-game home winning streak versus MAC opponents.

With seeds in the MAC Tournament up for grabs, the Broncos evened the season series with a 66-64 win Tuesday in DeKalb, pushed NIU's losing streak to four, and spoiled Senior Night for Kim Davis.

Tay in a Big Way
Satavia Taylor had her best scoring game of the season on Tuesday against the Broncos. She scored a career-high 20 points and was a season-best 8-for-13 from the field. Only five other times this season has a Huskie scored 20 or more points. In the six games prior, Taylor had scored 20 total points.

A.C. going Crazy for Threes
Over the last 10 games, Amanda Corral has connected on 15 of 26 three-point attempts. The 57.6 percent accuracy rate is almost 20 points higher than her season percentage of 40.7.

Super Seniors
Both Kim Davis and Courtney Shelton have put themselves into rare air in the NIU women's basketball program's last 10 years. Davis is one of six players during that time to score 400 points, shoot 40 percent from the field, and grab 300 rebounds. Shelton is one of four to score 600 points, hand out 200 assists, and make 100 three-pointers.

Defense Returns
After giving up 70-plus points in each of the last two games, the NIU defense rebounded to hold Toledo to just 49 points on Saturday. The game marked the seventh time this season that the Huskies have held an opponent under 50 points.

Dominant Davis
Over the last seven games, Kim Davis is averaging 14.7 points and 6.6 rebounds per game while shooting 56.7 percent from the field.

Distributing All Over the Court
Over the last seven games, Courtney Shelton has 48 assists and only 24 turnovers. She leads the team with 103 assists, which are a new single season high for her. Shelton's 1.1 assist-to-turnover ratio is fifth in the MAC and her 3.8 assists per game are good for sixth as of Feb. 28.

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 Feb. 22 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.

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 the Feb. 18 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.

Free Throw Show
With a team percentage of 72.3 from the free throw line, NIU ranks fourth in the MAC and 65th in the nation as of Feb. 28.

Half Impact
Helping NIU to a 34-19 halftime lead in the Ball State win on Feb. 16 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.

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 on Feb. 11. 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.

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.

Three's Company
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.

Dominating Defense
As of Feb. 28, NIU ranks third in the MAC in opponent field goal percentage (37.4) and second in opponent three-point percentage (29.2). The Huskies are 11-9 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 (59.3 PPG).

Board Beasts
With rebounding margin of +3.1, NIU ranks fifth in the MAC and 89th in the NCAA as of Feb. 28. NIU's 72.0 percent defensive rebounding clip is second in the league. The Huskies have outrebounded their opponents 19 times this year and are 12-7 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.

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.

Graduating Huskies
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.

-NIU-

 

 

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