No. 7 Huskies Meet No. 3 Toledo in MAC Quarterfinals Thursday

GO HUSKIES
GO HUSKIES

GO HUSKIES

March 7, 2012

No. 7 Northern Illinois Huskies (14-16, 6-10 MAC) vs. No. 3 Toledo Rockets (20-8, 13-3 MAC)

NIU-UT Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

Date: Thursday, March 8, 2012
Tipoff: 1:30 PM CT
Location: Quicken Loans Arena | Cleveland, Ohio
Radio: WLBK 1360-AM DeKalb - Andy Garcia on the call
Live Stats and Video: MAC-Sports.com

The Match-Up
Northern Illinois plays its second neutral game of the year with its 41st all-time meeting against Toledo.

Storylines
-- NIU's season is on the line in the quarterfinals 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 NIU finishing seventh in the MAC overall standings, it will need to win the MAC Tournament to reach the NCAA Tournament. The winner will face No. 2 Eastern Michigan at Quicken Loans Arena on March 9 at 1:30 PM CT in the semifinals.

-- NIU suffered a heart-breaking 49-47 loss to the Co-MAC West champs in Dekalb on Jan. 14 in which Andola Dortch sank a last-second shot to seal the win for Toledo. UT then cruised to a 49-39 win at home in the second regular season meeting on Feb. 25. NIU has won one of the only three neutral site games it has played against Toledo -- two were in the MAC Tournament. No. 6 Toledo beat No. 11 NIU in the most recent meeting 76-61 on March 5, 2005, in the first round at Toledo. On March 6, 2002, No. 6 NIU defeated No. 3 Toledo 58-48 in the quarterfinals in Cleveland's Gund Arena. On March 9, 2001, No. 1 Toledo beat No. 4 NIU 58-38 in the semifinals at Gund Arena.

-- NIU will be looking to win three games in the MAC Tournament for the first time ever and advance to the semifinals for the fourth time and first time since facing Ball State in 2007.

A Look at Toledo
Toledo won a share of the MAC West regular season championship with Eastern Michigan, and earned a bye to the MAC Tournament quarterfinals. The Rockets have not played a game since ending the regular season at Ball State with a 70-65 win on Feb. 28. Since losing five of eight games from Dec. 8 to Jan. 11, UT has gone 12-1. The Rockets average 63.0 points per game and give up 56.6. They are shooting 42.5 percent from the field and allow opponents to shoot 36.4 percent. Toledo features three scorers that average double figures in MAC Defensive Player of the Year and Second Team All-MAC selection Andola Dortch (13.1 PPG), Courtney Ingersoll (11.3 PPG) and Yolanda Richardson (10.2 PPG).

Last Time Versus Toledo
The two teams last met in Toledo, Ohio, on Feb. 25, and the Rockets won 49-39. UT used a 10-2 run to open the second half to take a 15-point lead. NIU would cut the deficit to nine with just under four minutes to play but that was as close as the Huskies would get. Kim Davis led NIU with 14 points, while Haylie Linn led Toledo with 14.

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.

Huskies Win Two in the MAC Tourney
NIU has won two games in the MAC Tournament for the first time since 2007. In 15 appearances in the MAC Tournament, NIU has won two games four times but has never won three games. The furthest NIU has advanced in the MAC Tournament is the semifinals on three occasions (2001, 2002, 2007). The Huskies have appeared in the quarterfinals four times (2001, 2002, 2006, 2007). NIU is 3-1 in the quarterfinals.

Bennett Does it Again in Year Two
NIU's 61-60 win over Akron yesterday gave the Huskies 14 wins on the year, which is one more than NIU had in Head Coach Kathi Bennett's initial season in 2010-11. In Year Two of each of her four head coaching stops throughout her career, Bennett has posted a combined win-loss total of 58-54. Her Year Two win total has been an increase from Year One in three of the four 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.

Rare Rebound-less Win
NIU was still able to edge out Akron yesterday despite the Zips' 53-31 rebounding advantage. It's only the ninth time all season that NIU has been outrebounded. It's also the first time that the Huskies have come out victorious while being outrebounded.

Three's Company
Four scorers reached double-figures against Akron yesterday, which marked the 12th time this season that NIU has had three or more players score 10-plus points. Amanda Corral and Courtney Shelton led with 14. Kim Davis and Satavia Taylor had 12 apiece. NIU is 10-2 when having three or more players score in double figures this season.

Starting to Gel
Since losing leading scorer Claire Jakubicek to injury on Feb. 16, NIU has started the same five in all six games: Alicia Johnson, Amanda Corral, Courtney Shelton, Kim Davis, and Jenna Thorp. The quintet lost each of its first four games but has now won its last two. More importantly, the wins and familiarity have come at the right time -- in the MAC Tournament.

Jakubicek Named MAC Freshman of the Year
On Tuesday, the MAC announced its awards and Claire Jakubicek was named MAC Freshman of the Year. She is just the second Huskie to garner the accolade from the MAC after Joi Scott accomplished the feat for the 2002-03 campaign. Consequently, Jakubicek was also named to the five-person MAC All-Freshman Team. She's the fifth Huskie to reach all-rookie status in the MAC and first since Stephanie Raymond in 2003-04.

Prior to her season-ending injury, Jakubicek was in her best rhythm of the season. She had scored double figures in nine of her last 10 games and had her scoring average at its highest point all season at 11.0 points per game. She had also hit 37 straight free throws.

Among the MAC, Jakubicek's 11.0 points per game ranks 16th, her 46.3 field goal percentage is ninth, and her 95.9 free throw percentage would lead the league by a wide margin had she not gotten hurt and fallen under the minimum attempts to qualify. Only two other freshmen in the MAC averaged double figures in points this season. They averaged more than Jakubicek, but both were on the same team - Central Michigan's Crystal Bradford (13.3 PPG) and Jessica Green (11.7 PPG).

Huskies Head to Cleveland
NIU's 68-51 home win on Saturday over Western Michigan in the first round of the MAC Tournament gave NIU its first MAC Tournament win since 2007. The victory also gave the Huskies their first return to Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena since 2009.

NIU-WMU Score Settled
NIU beat Western Michigan in Kalamazoo on Jan. 19. WMU beat NIU in DeKalb in overtime on Feb. 28 and spoiled Senior Night. Because of WMU's win, the aftermath in the standings created a rematch in the first round of the MAC Tournament at the NIU Convocation Center just four days later. The Huskies then got the ultimate revenge as they ended the Broncos' season with their largest win over a MAC foe this season.

Torching the Net
In the WMU win on Saturday, NIU shot a deft 61 percent from the field, including a ridiculous 82.4 percent in the second half. Not only was 61 percent field goal rate an NIU Convocation Center record, it was an NIU postseason record. It was also the fifth-best performance in MAC Tournament history.

Painting a Victory
Four days prior to NIU's win over WMU, the Broncos scored 30 points in the paint and Aurielle Anderson had 29 total and all nine of WMU's overtime points. In Saturday's win, NIU outscored WMU 30-16 in the paint and held Anderson to just 15 points.

Corral is OK
In her first collegiate postseason game, Amanda Corral scored a career-high 21 points on 9-for-12 shooting, including going 3-for-3 from three-point land. Her 3-point performance tied the NIU conference tournament percentage record set by Denise Dove, who was also 3-for-3 in 1990. It also tied the MAC Tournament record.

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.

Tay in a Big Way
Satavia Taylor had her best scoring game of the season on Feb. 28 against Western Michigan. She scored a career-high 20 points and was a season-best 8-for-13 from the field. Only six other times this season has a Huskie scored 20 or more points. In the six games prior, Taylor had scored 20 total points.

Taylor then followed it up with two more double figure performances, scoring 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting against Western Michigan and totaling 12 versus Akron.

A.C. going Crazy for Threes
Over the last 12 games, Amanda Corral has connected on 21 of 34 three-point attempts. The 62 percent accuracy rate is almost 20 points higher than her season percentage of 44.8.

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 Feb. 25. The game marked the seventh time this season that the Huskies have held an opponent under 50 points.

Dominant Davis
Over the last nine games, Kim Davis is averaging 14.3 points and 6.9 rebounds per game while shooting 53.2 percent from the field.

Distributing All Over the Court
Over the last nine games, Courtney Shelton has 55 assists and only 28 turnovers. She leads the team with 110 assists, which are a new single season high for her. Shelton's 1.1 assist-to-turnover ratio and 3.9 assists per game are good for fifth in the MAC as of March 3.

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.

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.

Free Throw Show
With a team percentage of 72.3 from the free throw line, NIU ranks fourth in the MAC and 66th in the nation as of March 3.

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 two losses 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.

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.

Dominating Defense
As of March 3, NIU ranks third in the MAC in opponent field goal percentage (37.3) and second in opponent three-point percentage (29.1). The Huskies are 12-9 when holding opponents under 40 percent shooting and are 9-3 when outshooting their foes. The Huskies also rank fourth in the MAC in scoring defense (59.0 PPG).

Board Beasts
With rebounding margin of +3.1, NIU ranks fifth in the MAC and 88th in the NCAA as of March 3. NIU's 71.9 percent defensive rebounding clip is second in the league. The Huskies have outrebounded their opponents 20 times this year and are 13-7 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.

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-