Nov. 9, 2009
DeKALB - The Northern Illinois women's basketball team opens the 2009-10 season Tuesday, as the Huskies host Lewis at 7 p.m. in an exhibition contest at the Convocation Center.
NIU enters its fifth season under the guidance of head coach Carol Owens, a 1995 Huskie Hall of Fame inductee from her playing days at NIU. Owens has collected a group of players with the talent, the will and the chemistry to compete for a Mid-American Conference Championship.
"In all the successful teams I have been a part of chemistry is important," Owens said. "Our team has a real understanding of how that affects everything on the court."
The Huskies return four of their top-five scorers from last season, including two All-MAC selections. Junior Marke Freeman garnered the Sixth Player of the Year award after averaging 9.6 points and 3.3 assists per game off the bench. Fellow junior Ebony Ellis earned an All-MAC Honorable Mention selection as one of the most dominant inside presences in the conference. Add in senior sharpshooter Kylie York and versatile junior forward Mauvolyene Adams and the Huskies have a first four that can challenge anyone in the conference.
"It's good to see that we have the experience," Owens said. "The core of our team is setting a great example for our freshmen and sophomores."
The Flyers are taking the tough route in their exhibition season. Lewis opened their unofficial season with a 93-62 loss to Bradley. Forwards Jenny Turpel and Devon Carbaugh each scored 14 to lead the Flyers. Lewis faced Illinois Sunday night, falling 75-40. Kelly Dianis and Kelly Monaco each scored in double-figures for the Flyers in the loss. While the game is not the official season-opener, the Huskies have a track record of winning in opening games under Owens. Northern Illinois won its first three season-openers under Owens, but lost last year's lid-lifter to IUPUI, 72-58.
While four of NIU's five starting spots are clinched by Adams, Ellis, Freeman and York, one place in the starting line is still up for grabs. Several players are vying in practice to be the third starting guard. The list of candidates includes senior Terriel Cannon
, junior Bianca Brown
, and sophomores Sarah Rogers
, Courtney Shelton
and Tenisha Wilson
, with no indication of who could get the nod Tuesday night.
After facing the Flyers, Northern Illinois will look for luck on Friday the 13th, when the Huskies open the regular season at 7 p.m. in the Convocation Center against Bradley.