Huskies Head to New Mexico State for Thanksgiving Tournament

GO HUSKIES Senior Ashley Sneed
Senior Ashley Sneed

Nov. 27, 2013

NMSU-Lamar-Notes Get Acrobat Reader

Game 5
NIU vs. New Mexico State
Nov. 29, 2013
Noon CT
Pan American Center

Radio: WLBK 1360AM & 98.9FM;
Andy Garcia
Live Stats:

Game 6
NIU vs. Lamar
Nov. 30, 2013
Noon CT
Pan American Center

 Andy Garcia
Live Stats:


The Northern Illinois women's basketball team will play in the seventh annual Aggie Hotel Encanto Thanksgiving Classic November 29 and 30 as the Huskies take on New Mexico State and Lamar on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

This year's trip to New Mexico will be the Huskies second all-time and the Huskies first in 10 years. After hosting New Mexico State in 2001, Northern Illinois returned the trip in December 2003. While NIU defeated the Aggies at home in Chick Evans Fieldhouse in 2001, 65-58, the Huskies fell to NMSU in 2003, 60-55. Director of Basketball Operations Stephanie Smith (2000-04) was a member of both of those teams. She started for the Huskies in their lone contest at the Pan American Center, home of the New Mexico State basketball programs.

The Huskies hosted in-state foe Bradley Thursday, November 21 at the NIU Convocation Center and entered the contest with a three-game winless streak against the Braves of the power mid-major conference, Missouri Valley.

Both teams started at a feverish pace, Northern Illinois and Bradley traded baskets for the first seven minutes of the game until the first media timeout with the Huskies holding a 13-11 advantage. Amanda Corral, who played all 40 minutes of the contest, reached double-digit scoring in the first half and finished with 17 points to lead all scorers in the game. Corral also had five assists.

NIU built a 17 point lead in the in the second half, but Bradley clawed back to within two late in the game. Junior Jenna Thorp, who returned to the Huskie lineup after suffering an injury in a preseason scrimmage, sunk a shot with 1:31 left in the game that put NIU back up by five, 61-56, and forced BU to foul and send the Huskies to the line.

Junior Natecia Augusta recorded her second double-double of the season against the Braves as she outbested Bradley's 6-3 forward Alyson Spinas-Vilainis with 10 points and 12 rebounds. As a team, NIU held BU's Michelle Young to seven points on 3-of-14 shooting. Young entered the game averaging 22 points per game.

New Mexico State owns a 2-3 record in the early goings of the season with 30-plus point wins over Boise State and Eastern New Mexico, both of which occurred at its home court, the Pan American Center.

NMSU fell in its season opener at UTEP Nov. 12, 94-69, before returning home to defeat the Broncos, 98-68. The Aggies followed up with a two game road trip in California Nov. 16 and 18, falling at Loyola Marymount, 81-64, and at Cal Poly, 72-64, respectively. Most recently, New Mexico State defeated the Division II Zias, 88-56, November 21.

The Aggies play an aggressive, running style of offense, similar to Bradley as they average 76.6 points per game. Defensively, New Mexico State is surrendering 74.2 points this season and is being outrebounded by its opponents, 45-38. Freshman guard Vanessa Garner leads the Aggies in scoring and in assists with 17.2 points and 2.6 assists per game. Off the bench, Las Cruces native Elena Holguin is second in scoring with 11.4 points per game. September Offutt paces NMSU in rebounding at 7.6 boards per contest.

Lamar is already six games into the season and is 3-3 on year with wins on the road and at home. In their last time out, Nov. 25, the Cardinals fell to SMU, 82-79, preceded by a win at Louisiana, 68-60. LU built a two-game winning streak after a season-opening loss at Oklahoma State, 83-56, by downing Our Lady of the Lake and Texas-San Antonio Nov. 11 and 14, respectively, before losing by one point at Tulsa Nov. 17, 68-67.

Playing 35.2 minutes per game, Dominique Edwards paces the Cardinals in scoring and rebounding with 17.7 points and 9.7 boards per contest. Guard Gia Ayers leads Lamar in assists with 5.3 per outing and is also contributing 13.7 points per game. Shauna Long is currently accounting for 10.5 points per game this season off the bench. She is an impressive 16-for-28 (.571) behind the arc.

In the Huskies last outing against Bradley, junior Natecia Augusta accounted for her second career double-double - the second in as many home games - with 10 points and 12 rebounds. The 6-0 forward matched up with BU's Alyson Spinas-Valainis and bested the 6-3 forward in rebounds, 12-9. Augusta is the first player since teammate Amanda Corral in 2011-12 to account for two double-doubles in a season.

Thursday versus Bradley, the Northern Illinois women's basketball team put up 74 shots in a game. The Huskies were 29-of-74 (.392) against the Braves and won the game. 63-60. It was the first time in over two years, November 16, 2011 versus Western Illinois, that NIU recorded 70-or-more shots in a game. That night against the Leathernecks, NIU was 33-for-74 (.446) and defeated WIU, 91-84.

NIU has been strong on the offensive glass this season as it has outrebounded its opponents, 61-50. In their two wins at the NIU Convocation Center this November, the Huskies have led their opponents in offensive boards, 40-23, including an output of 21 versus Mississippi Valley State November 12. It was the first 20-plus performance by Northern Illinois since February 19, 2011 at Eastern Michigan, where the Huskies grabbed 21 offensive boards in their 62-35 loss to the Eagles.

With eight days of rest in her near future, junior Amanda Corral played in all 40 minutes of the action against Bradley. It was the ninth-time in her career that she had played in every minute of the contest. After accomplishing the feat three times as a freshman, she pulled it off five times last year, including a 45 minute overtime performance at UIC, Dec. 22, 2012.

Junior Amanda Corral has been the Huskies most-consistent scorer since her arrival in 2011-12 at Northern Illinois University. In 63 career games played, Corral has reached double-digits in scoring 40 times (.635). The Hobart, Ind. native has averaged 11.4 points in her NIU career, ranking her 19th all-time at NIU. The junior also has three career double-doubles in her career.

One of the Huskies major keys to success last week against Bradley was their ability to move the ball through and around the Braves defense. Of their 29 buckets, NIU registered assists on 16 of those baskets to mark a season-high dime mark. Junior Amanda Corral led the Huskies with five while freshman Ally Lehman and redshirt junior Danny Pulliam tallied four apiece.

Though it may sound like something out of a movie, the NIU women's basketball coaches and players can confirm it was real. Redshirt junior forward Jenna Thorp returned to the lineup Nov. 21 versus Bradley, after injuring herself a month earleir in a scrimmage at Marquette. Thorp came off the bench after the first media timeout in the first half for her season debut. In 19 minutes of action, Thorp productively added 10 points that included a jumper with 1:31 left in the game to put the Huskies up by two scores, 61-56. Off the ball, besides setting screens, the Hinckley, Ill., native charged the NIU players on the floor, as she vocally orchestrated Head Coach Kathi Bennett's offensive and defensive gameplan.

Everyone deserves a second chance and the Huskies have shown that and over the last three games, Northern Illinois has outscored its opponents in second chance scoring opportunities, 58-36. In that span, NIU was only outscored by Wisconsin in that category, and has pulled down 10 offensive rebounds in each of those contests. The Huskies scored 28 points on second chanes versus Mississipp Valley State Nov. 12.

Opponents beware... Northern Illinois' offense this season has been a deep well of scoring this season as several players have stepped up at different points throughout the first four games of the year. That point also holds true in ball distributors as juniors Amanda Corral and Danny Pulliam, and freshman Ally Lehman are in a three way tie for most assists on the team with 10 helpers apiece.

While also an eclectic offshoot of the popular style of music, freshman Jazmine Harris has seemed to put a few pieces of the college game puzzle together last Sunday afternoon at the Kohl Center in her 12 minutes of play versus Wisconsin. In her home state no less, the frosh finished 4-for-8 from the field to acount for eight points with two rebounds and a steal playing quick spell minutes during the first and second half. On Nov. 21 versus Bradley, Harris scored four points and registered her first career assist, dishing two against the Braves.

Due to a series of injuries over the last two seasons, redshirt junior Danny Pulliam has played in 46 games as a Huskie, 30 of which came as freshman. In only her 13th career appearance, Pulliam scored in double-digits for the first time, a career-high 15 points versus Illinois State. 32 games, three seasons, one meniscus tear and a microfracture surgery later, Pulliam reached double figures again as she dropped 11 points at Wisconsin Nov. 17, nine of which came in the second half.

Junior Natecia Augusta has proven her value down low in Huskies lineup so far this season. After finding herself in foul trouble at Green Bay, the Phoenix accounted for 44 points in the paint. In NIU's home-opener versus Mississippi Valley State, Augusta recorded her first career double-double as she posted 17 points and 11 rebounds. Her defensive presence at Wisconsin was irreplaceable as she was able to compete for rebounds and provide an equal target against the lanky UW defenders as she helped force 15 turnovers to the Huskies 14 against the Badgers. Augusta is averaging 9.3 points and 7.0 rebounds while also posting a career-high 24.3 minutes per game. At Wisconsin, the Peoria, Ill. native played a career-best 34 minutes on the floor for the Huskies. After her 10 point, 12 rebound effort against Bradley, Augusta now has two career double-doubles.

Freshman Ally Lehman has been a consistent piece for the Huskies as she has done it all in the NIU lineup. With two two starts in four appearances this season, Lehman is averaging 28.5 minutes per game with 5.5 points per game is the second leading rebounder on the squad with 6.3 boards a game. While pacing the NIU lineup with 2.5 assists a contest, the Nineveh, Ind., native also has two steals and a block this season.

The NIU Huskies will head to Normal, Ill. for a showdown with another in-state Missouri Valley Conference foe, Illinois State, Thursday, December 5. Tipoff at Redbird Arena is set for 7 p.m.



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