Huskies Open MAC Tournament at Eastern Michigan

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March 9, 2014

Game 29 - vs Eastern Michigan (Ypsilanti, Mich.)
Monday, March 10 (4 p.m.)
Live Stats: EMUEagles.com
Video: EMUEagles.com

Radio: NIUTube (3:45 p.m. pregame)
Play-by-Play: Andy Garcia
Twitter: @NIUscores

HUSKIES OPEN MAC TOURNAMENT WITH REPLAY AT EASTERN MICHIGAN
Only eight days removed from their last meeting, the Northern Illinois women’s basketball team will head back to Eastern Michigan for a meeting in the first round of the Mid-American Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament Monday, March 10. The Eagles will host a first round doubleheader, starting with NIU-EMU game at 4 p.m. Central.

FOLLOW THE HUSKIES ALL SEASON LONG
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.

LAST TIME OUT
Northern Illinois hosted Western Michigan, the third-straight regular season finale meeting between the two teams, on NIU’s Senior Day. After honoring seniors Alicia Johnson and Ashley Sneed on the court prior to the game, the Huskies jumped out to a 2-0 lead, however, WMU would score 11-straight points to take an 11-2 lead at the first media timeout. After recollecting on the bench, the Huskies began a sea change on the court as the defense clamped down and the offense began to hit shots, outscoring the Broncos in final 15 minutes of the half, 25-20, to trail at halftime, 31-27. Freshman Ally Lehman led all scorers in the half with nine points.

NIU continued its trend upward, eventually taking over the lead with 17:55 remaining as Amanda Corral hit a three-point basket to make it 34-33 NIU -- the Huskies first lead in over 20 minutes. Western Michigan would tie the game, 40-40, with 12:59 left in the period but Northern Illinois would not relinquish its lead and eventuatlly carry a 12 point advantage with two minutes remaining in the contest. For the first time in the regular season finale series between NIU and WMU, the Huskies earned victory as they defeated the Broncos, 59-51. Lehman finished with a career-high 16 points, while Corral ended with 13 points. The Huskies defense was relentless in the final 36 minutes of the game as it only allowed WMU to shoot .364 (20-of-55) from the field and did not allow a single Bronco to reach double figures. WMU’s leading scorer Miracle Woods only played 18 minutes as she accumulated three fouls in the first half and four in the game, scoring six points. Marquisha Harris led the Broncos with eight points.

HISTORY 101 - NO. 8 VERSUS NO. 9 SEEDS
Under the current format --- where the No. 9 seed travels to the No. 8 seed for the first round of the MAC Tournament --- the ninth seed holds a 4-6 record in tournament road games. Western Michigan earned victory last season as it defeated Eastern Michigan in Ypsilanti, 80-72. See page 10 of the notes for a complete history of MAC Tournament No. 8 versus No. 9 seeds.

HISTORY 102 - HUSKIES IN THE MAC TOURNAMENT FIRST ROUND
Including its previous affiliation from 1982-86, NIU has qualified for the Mid-American Conference 16 times --- owning an all-time record of 4-12 in the first round of play. Northern Illinois last won a first round game during the 2012 season, defeating Western Michigan, 68-51, eventually advancing to the tournament quarterfinals after defeating Akron on a last second putback by Kim Davis in the tournament’s second round.

HISTORY 103 - NIU VERSUS EMU IN THE TOURNAMENT
There isn’t much history between Northern Illinois and Eastern Michigan in the MAC Tournament as the two have only met up once in postseason play. In the only meeting between the two teams, February 28, 2000 in Ypsilanti, Mich., the Huskies were narrowly edged by the Eagles, 67-65, as four Huskies reached double figures in the contest.

WINNER TAKES ALL
NIU and EMU have already met twice this season and results have been a mixed bag for both squads as the series is tied, 1-1, with each team taking its respective home meeting. Northern Illinois and Eastern Michigan have only once met three times in the same season, 2000, as EMU earned a sweep that year, 3-0. In the Huskies third conference game of the 2014 MAC season, NIU defeated the Eagles, 77-54, led by a career-high 30 point effort by junior Amanda Corral. In the last meeting eight days ago in Ypsilanti, Eastern Michigan played some if its best defense of the season as it defeated the Huskies, 54-45, at the EMU Convocation Center. Natecia Augusta scored 12 for NIU in the post, while Eagles Cha Sweeney and Olivia Fouty each accounted for 13 points.

CHA’S REVOLUTION
Eastern Michigan freshman Cha Sweeney has been one of the top freshman in the Mid-American Conference all season, averaging 16.9 points per game in 29 games. Sweeney is the top scorer amongst all freshman in the conference this season and is the top freshman scorer in EMU history, surpassing the mark set by EMU’s all-time leading scorer Tavelyn James, one of the MAC’s all-time leading scorers. In 18 Mid-American Conference games, Sweeney has shot .363 from the field with an avergae of 18.9 points. Against the Huskies however, Sweeney has been well below her averages as she has shot a combined .320 from the field and scored an average of 12.0 points in the affiars against NIU.

LET MY SPIRIT CARRY ME
Huskie junior Jenna Thorp has not flown like an Eagle in the series --- she’s soared higher than any other Eagle in the series when it comes to rebounds as she has averaged 11.0 boards against Eastern Michigan this season. In the first meeting with EMU, the Hinckley, Ill., native pulled down a career-high 13 rebounds in the contest and had a similar performance two games ago as she pulled down nine Eagle bricks. Offensively, Thorp has only averaged 4.0 points per game but her work as a rebounder has been a difference for the Huskies in the series thus far.

MORE SERIES NOTES
The Huskies lead the Eagles in almost every statistical category, only trailing EMU in offensive rebounds, 24-21, and steals, 17-14. Northern Illinois is outshooting Eastern Michigan by almost 10 percent as the Huskies are shooting .438 while the Eagles have shot .345 from the field.

AUGUSTA’S LICENSE TO KILL
Junior Natecia Augusta has been a deadly shooter in the series with Eagles as she owns a field goal percentage of .733 on 11-of-15 shooting. The Peoria, Ill., native has scored in double-digits in each contest, scoring 11 in the first meeting and 12 on the road on March 2.

THE FRESHMAN’S FAVORITE SERIES
Freshman Jazmine Harris has been an explosive spark in the series with Eastern Michigan and is averaging 10.5 points per game in the series. Her ability to carve through EMU’s 2-3 zone has led to scoring performances of 14 and 7 at home and on the road, respectively.

GETTING TO THE LINE AND NEARLY FLAWLESS
Amanda Corral owns the highest scoring average of any player in the Northern Illinois and Eastern Michigan series this season, averaging 18.5 points in the two meetings thanks in part to a 30-point effort in the series opener in DeKalb. While she is shooting .545 from the field on 12-of-22 shooting, her percentage at the free throw line has been  spectacular as she is 11-of-12 (.917) from the charity stripe against Eastern Michigan, missing her only shot on January 12 when she was 8-of-9 from the line.

REBOUNDING BY COMMITTEE
Northern Illinois outrebounded Western Michigan last time out, 36-31, as all nine Huskies who played pulled down rebounds in the contest. Not only did every NIU player account for at least one rebound, but no player amassed more than five in the game as Natecia Augusta, Amanda Corral, Ally Lehman and Jenna Thorp each shared the lead in boards with five. The Huskies also had five team rebounds in the contest.

IT TAKES A VILLAGE...
In order to play good defense, it takes all five players to work together and communicate on the floor. The Huskies did just that versus Western Michigan on March 8 as they held the Broncos to 51 points. More impressively, for the first time all season, NIU held all players on an opponents roster to under 10 points in a game. The Huskies allowed Bronco Marquisha Harris to score eight points from the post, the most by any WMU player in the regular season finale. It was the first time since December 29, 2012 versus Norfolk State at the Cavalier Classic in Charlottsville, Va., that the Huskies did not allow an opponent score 10-or-more points as Northern Illinois defeated the Spartans, 69-38.

HOLDING THEM DOWN
For the fifth time this season, the Huskies limited an opponent to 20-or-fewer points in a period as they held Western Michigan to 20 points in the second half of the game. It was the first time since NIU held Akron to 20 points in the first half in the Northern Illinois-Zips match up on February 5. NIU also held Kent State, Illinois State and Eastern Michigan to 20 points or less in a half this season.

A LOT CAN HAPPEN IN 17 DAYS
Freshman Ally Lehman has accomplished a lot on the court in the last 17 days (five games) as she has twice set new career scoring highs. At Akron on February 19, Lehman scored 14 points in the second half to set a new game scoring high. Versus Western Michigan in the regular season finale, the Nineveh, Ind., native scored 16 points to lead all scorers in the game and NIU to victory, 59-51.

FINAL SCORE - NIU IN RETURN GAMES
After going 4-7 in its first round of games, NIU finished 2-5 in return games in the Mid-American Conferece, defeating Toledo February 27 in overtime, 68-59, and Western Michigan in the MAC finale on March 8, 59-51. As junior Natecia Augusta put it in an interview before the game Central Michigan on January 15, “one of our goals this season is to at least win one game versus each of our conference opponents, or win both.” Against the 11 other MAC schools this season, the Huskies defeated six (Ohio, Toledo, Eastern Michigan, Miami, Kent State, Western Michigan) at least once or earned a split in the series.

THE POST IS STRONG IN YOU
The Northern Illinois forwards have been strong throughout the entire season but the consistency of their production has increased as of late as post presence is now manufactured off of the bench as well. The trio of Natecia Augusta, Jazmine Harris and Jenna Thorp have accounted for 45.4 percent of the teams points in the last five games (27.8 PPG) and 48.1 percent of the teams rebounds in that span (18.0 RPG). Augusta leads the group in scoring with 10.0 points but is third in rebounding with 6.0 rebounds. Harris is second in scoring (9.6) and tied for the lead in rebounds with Thorp, 6.2, while Thorp is averaging at a clip of 8.4 points in the last five games.

SCOUTING THE EAGLES
Eastern Michigan is 17-12 through the regular season and finished its Mid-American Conference slate 7-11 to finish eighth in the conference. After falling by 36 points to Toledo March 5, 88-52, EMU earned its biggest win of the season as it defeated Central Michigan in overtime, 99-84. After tying with the Chippewas with only seconds left on a Desyree Thomas layup to force overtime, 77-77, the Eagles went on a 22-7 run in the final five minutes of overtime to defeat the Chips, 99-84. In 41 minutes on the court, Natachia Watkins and Cha Sweeney accounted for 26 and 21 points, respectively, to lead EMU over CMU.

After her 21 point performance, Sweeney is now averaging 16.9 points per game for the Eagles to lead EMU scorers, while accounting for 2.8 assists per game --- the second most on the squad. Janay Morton is the second leading Eastern Michigan scorer with 12.8 points. Forward Olivia Fouty is the final Eagle to average double figures, accounting for 10.9 points per game, while recording a team-high 8.3 rebounds per game.

BOARDING AT A PREMIUM
While its total was not its highest of the season, Northern Illinois had its best rebounding margin Wednesday night at Ball State since January 4 in the Huskies MAC opener against Ohio. Last time out against the Cardinals, NIU posted a +9 rebounding margin as it posted 34 boards to BSU’s 25. Versus the Bobcats in the conference opener,  NIU was +13 in rebounds, five shy of tying its season-high against Mississippi Valley State in the home opener on November 11, 2013. NIU set its season-high in rebounds against the Devilettes, grabbing 51 boards in the game.

THE PRIDE OF HINCKLEY, ILLINOIS
Despite starting off the season with an injury sustained during a preseason scrimmage that forced her to miss the first three games of the season, junior Jenna Thorp has had a career season for the Huskies in 2013-14. Her efficiency has improved as she has played an average of four fewer minutes per game than last season, yet she has set career-highs in field goals made (64), field goal percentage (.418), rebounds per game (5.4) and offensive rebounds (48).


 

 

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