Intra-State Showdown at Illinois State on Huskies Tab

GO HUSKIES Alexis Lindstrom averaged 10 points per game last weekend at New Mexico State.
Alexis Lindstrom averaged 10 points per game last weekend at New Mexico State.

NIU-ISU Notes Get Acrobat Reader

Dec. 4, 2013

Game 7 - at Illinois State (Normal, Ill.)
Thursday, December 5 (7:05 p.m.)
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Radio: NIUtube | Play-by-Play: Andy Garcia

Twitter: @NIUscores

After four days out West at New Mexico State, Northern Illinois University returns to home to Illinois but is back on the road as it takes on Illinois State Thursday Dec. 5. The tipoff, scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at Redbird Arena in Normal, will be the 34th all-time in the series.

The Huskies and the Redbirds have a long standing history, 56 years to be exact. Northern Illinois and Illinois State met in the Huskies second game ever as a women’s basketball program in 1957-58, with ISU claiming the victory over Hall of Famer Dr. Mary M. Bell’s squad, 41-39. While the teams were common opponents for most years during the 1960’s, 1970’s and the pre-NCAA 1980’s, NIU and ISU did not play each other between 1983-1998, a recognized period of Huskie dominance on a national scale. All-time, the Huskies trail the Redbirds in the series, 26-7. Northern Illinois last claimed triumph in the series Nov. 11, 2006, 97-69, at the Convocation Center and has not won at Redbird Arena since Dec. 7, 2002, 80-48.

The Huskies played in the Aggie Hotel Encanto Thanksgiving Classic at New Mexico State where NIU took on the host Aggies and Lamar Nov. 29 and 30, respectively.

In the tournament opener, NIU and New Mexico State traded baskets through the first half but the Huskies held advantages in field goals, 15-13, and in points, 35-33. While Northern Illinois continued to make shots in the second stanza, NMSU made a trio of clutch three point shots to gain the lead 10 minutes into the half. NIU continued to fight and never allowed the Aggie lead to reach beyond five points as New Mexico State tried to run away with it. After draining two free throws with 17 seconds left to put NIU within two, 73-71, Amanda Corral stole the inbounded ball on the following pass, going for a layup underneath the basket but the junior was unable to make it with defenders around her. NMSU went on to win, 77-73. Corral finished with 16 points while Natecia Augusta recorded her third double-double of the season with 10 points and 12 rebounds.

With the sour taste of defeat in their mouth the next morning, the Huskies came out hungry against Lamar, draining the first basket of the game and never looking back from there. NIU would go on to account for 16 field goals in the half and take a 41-26 lead over LU at halftime, thanks in part to Alexis Lindstrom, who drained three shots from behind the arc. NIU would start the second half on a 23-2 run to build its largest lead of the game at 36 points, 63-28. Northern Illinois finished the game with a season-high 32 baskets on 65 attempts (.492) to defeat the Lady Cardinals, 79-52. Lindstrom finished with 14 points and four three-point baskets. Corral shot, slashed and fast breaked her way to a career-high 25 points in the contest while Alicia Johnson led all rebounders in the game with 11.

Illinois State is 1-4 though their first five games of the season and recently returned to the United States after a trip to the Bahamas for the Junkanoo Jam at the Hotel Grand Lucayan. The Redbirds have only played one home game thus far this season, falling to Colorado State, 76-61, Nov. 23. In the Bahamas, the Redbirds clinched their first win of the season over Florida, 68-64, and lost to No. 14/13 Penn State, 72-60. In their four losses - Northern Kentucky (61-48), DePaul (80-67), CSU and PSU - Illinois State has lost by a combined 13.25 points. In their last two games, the bench has not accounted for a single point, leaving the scoring to their starters. Illinois State Head Coach Barb Smith is in her first season with the program, after spending 201-13 at Saint Louis University as an assistant coach. It is Smith’s first head coaching position since she helmed San Diego State from 1997-2002.

Alexis Foley played two fantastic games in the Junkanoo Jam, scoring 21 points against the Gators and 26 versus the Nittany Lions to earn Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Week honors. Foley is second on the team in scoring with 13.6 points per game. Chloe Nelson paces ISU in both scoring and assists as she is averaging 16.4 points and 3.8 helpers per contest. Down low in the post, the Redbirds have a pair of twin towers to carry the workload on the boards as Brianna Puni leads the team with 8.4 rebounds per game, while Octavia Crump is close behind with 7.0 boards per game.


“ISU’s played three really big time teams and had a great tournament down in the Bahamas. They’re coming off of a big win over Florida and played Penn State really tough. More importantly, they’re back home, which is always a tough place to win. It’s a great crowd down there. They’re leading scorer Chloe Nelson has had a couple of big games and another guard, Alexis Foley, is coming off of Missouri Valley Player of the Week honors, where she had career-highs of 21 and 26 points, so she is probably feeling pretty confident. They’re guards are definitely the strength of their team and that’s something that we’re going to have to contain. We’re looking to get better at Illinois State after playing well on the road, shooting well on the road and most importantly, getting a win on the road.”

Assistant Coach Kevin McManaman is in his second season with the Northern Illinois women’s basketball program, after previous stints with UW-Milwaukee and UIC. McManaman serves as the recruiting coordinator for the team.

Versus Lamar in NIU’s Aggie Hotel Encanto Thanksgiving Classic finale, Amanda Corral found herself in foul trouble in the first half and was forced to sit 12 minutes on the bench. With nine points and eight points to her name in the period, the junior took control of the floor with her scoring in the second stanza, adding 16 points in 17 minutes to close the game with 25 points, a new personal best, in 25 minutes of play. She finished 10-of-15 from the field, also a new career-high in field goals made, and recorded three assists and two steals.

The Huskies had their most successful shooting game of the season against Lamar at New Mexico State, going 32-for-65 from the field for a season-high percentage of .492. It was Northern Illinois’ highest percentage since going 29-for-49 (.592) at Ohio Feb. 6, 2013. The .492 clip was the Huskies highest field goal percentage with 60-or-more shots attempted in the Kathi Bennett era.

NIU also had a lot of success behind the three point line in their game against the Lady Cardinals, shooting 8-for-17 (.471) to record season-highs in both percentage and field goals made. Northern Illinois surpassed its best field goal mark of five, set at Green Bay in the season-opener, and improved its percentage clip, .308, set against Mississippi Valley State in the home-opener.

Not only was NIU knocking down shots against Lamar, but the Huskies were disrupting shots, as the team blocked five shots in the contest. Two of those five blocks came from Natecia Augusta, who tied her career-high for blocks in a game. The total was the highest by NIU since blocking seven shots at Valpariaso Jan. 5, 2013.


Through six games, junior forward Natecia Augusta has three double-doubles this season. Augusta entered 2013-14 with no such performances in her career but has proven to be strong presence in the post for Northern Illinois this year. The Peoria, Ill. native has registered the feat in both of NIU’s home games this season and recorded her first road double-double at New Mexico State with her 10 point, 12 rebound effort against the Aggies. On the season, Augusta is averaging 9.7 points and 8.0 rebounds per contest to pace the Huskies in rebounding. She is second on the team in scoring.

Senior Ashley Sneed has been just the answer the Huskies are looking for off the bench, averaging 18.5 minutes and 7.0 points per game. While the numbers might look average, Sneed is shooting an extremely impressive .583 from the field (21-36) to lead Northern Illinois in that category. What makes the mark that much more impressive is the fact that she has made most of her baskets as a shooter, not as a slasher. In her last five appearances, she is averaging 4.2 baskets per game.


Redshirt junior Danny Pulliam has found her rhythm on the court again, not only as a ball distributor, but also as a scorer. Versus New Mexico State, Pulliam tied her career-best mark with 15 points in the contest, equaling the clip attained in her freshman season versus Illinois State in 2011. It was the second time in 2013-14 Pulliam reached double-digits in scoring, first reaching the mark at Wisconsin Nov. 17. She is averaging 7.2 points per game.


While Pulliam has found a groove scoring as of late, she never lost her ability to distribute the ball, despite missing most of the last two seasons with injury. The junior is averaging three assists per game this season and has recorded at least four assists in four games of 2013-14.


Through six games this season, Danny Pulliam has 18 assists, an average of three per game. The previous two seasons, Pulliam only made a total of 12 appearances and combined for 24 assists, averaging 2.0 per game. As a freshman in 2010-11, the Indianapolis, Ind. native played in 30 games and registered 61 helpers (2.1 APG).

Northern Illinois made more field goals than New Mexico State in the lone showdown with the Aggies, 30-29, but was unable to defeat NMSU with the effort, falling 77-73.


Freshman Caroline Kelty, who made her second appearance of the season versus Lamar, registered the first assist of her collegiate career Saturday against the Lady Cardinals. Kelty dished a pass to Alex Dumoulin, who converted a jumper in the closing minutes of the contest at the Pan American Center.


Sophomore Alexis Lindstrom played with confidence Saturday afternoon against the Lady Cardinals, shooting a season best 5-for-8 (.625), including a 4-for-7 clip (.571) from behind the arc to account for 14 points versus Lamar. The day before against host New Mexico State, the Howards Grove, Wis. native drained two three-pointers to round her weekend average to 10.0 points per game at the Aggie Hotel Encanto Thanksgiving Classic.


Of their 32 field goals at Lamar, NIU registered 16 assists, including four apiece by Danny Pulliam and Alicia Johnson. The mark tied the Huskies single game high this season for total assists, set versus Bradley Nov. 21.

Senior Alicia Johnson did not score any points in the Huskies final game of the Aggie Hotel Encanto Thanksgiving Classic, but, as Head Coach Kathi Bennett said during the postgame radio interview “(Alicia) set the tempo for us defensively.” Johnson grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds in the game, nine of those on the defensive glass. The Chicago native also did work offensively in the game, dishing four assists to share the lead with Danny Pulliam.

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.

Junior Amanda Corral has been the Huskies most-consistent scorer since her arrival in 2011-12 at Northern Illinois University. In 66 career games played, Corral has reached double-digits in scoring 43 times (.651). The Hobart, Ind. native has averaged 11.7 points in her NIU career, ranking her 18th all-time at NIU. The junior also has three career double-doubles.

NIU has been strong on the offensive glass this season as it has out rebounded its opponents, 88-73 (+15). 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. Northern Illinois is averaging 14.7 offensive boards per game.

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, 89-68. In that span, NIU was only outscored by Wisconsin and New Mexico State in that category, and has pulled down at least 10 offensive rebounds in each of those contests. The Huskies scored 28 points on second chances versus Mississippi Valley State Nov. 12.

The NIU Huskies will take a week long break from the action as they take their finals December 9-13. Northern Illinois will head to South Dakota State for a showdown with the Jackrabbits in Frost Arena December 17 at 7 p.m.



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