March 30, 2009
DEKALB, Ill.-Four awards were presented to seven Huskies as the Northern Illinois University women's basketball team celebrated its 2008-09 season at its annual banquet Sunday afternoon at the Convocation Center.
Becky Smith (Janesville, Wis./Parker) took home two awards, earning the Academic Achievement Award and winning a share of the Huskie Award. Smith, a kinesiology-preventive and rehabilitation exercise science major, has a 3.9 cumulative GPA and played in all 30 games for the Huskies this season, starting eight. She led the team in blocks with 26 and is tied for 13th on NIU's all-time list with 63.
Smith was one of three Huskies to win the Huskie Award. Given to the player who embodies what it means to be a women's basketball player at NIU, the honor also went to sophomore Bianca Brown (Detroit, Mich./Renaissance) and senior Jessie Wilcox (Oshkosh, Wis./West). Brown came off the bench to play in 24 games, while Wilcox played in all 30, starting 22. She led the Huskies in scoring, averaging 10.9 points a game, finishing her Huskie career with 1,007 points for her career.
Ebony Ellis (Joliet, Ill./Joliet Township) was given the Windex Award as the Huskies' top rebounder. The 6-3 center was second in the league in rebounding hauling in a career-high 265 rebounds, averaging 8.8 boards a game. She grabbed a career-high 22 rebounds against Wagner at the Seton Hall Classic and was named to the Seton Hall Classic's all-tournament team, averaging 12.5 points and 14 rebounds in the two games.
Freshman Sarah Rogers
(Chicago, Ill./Marshall) earned the team's Most Improved Player Award. Rogers played in 28 games for the Huskies, averaging 10.2 minutes a game. A defensive specialist, she grabbed 43 rebounds, had 13 steals and four blocks. She also contributed offensively, dishing out 27 assists and scoring 49 points in her first season of collegiate basketball.
As a team, NIU's 10-6 MAC record is its best conference mark since 2001-02. The Huskies also set a school record, playing in four overtime games, winning three. Northern Illinois also played in back-to-back overtime games for the first time in school history, defeating Western Michigan and Eastern Michigan in OT respectively. Three Huskies were recognized by the Mid-American Conference for their outstanding play during the season. Marke Freeman (Springfield, Ill./Lanphier) was voted the MAC's Sixth Man of the Year by league coaches. She was the Huskies' second-leading scorer, averaging 9.6 points a game and led the team in assists with 99. Wilcox was named third-team all-MAC, while Ellis earned honorable mention recognition.