DeKALB - The Northern Illinois women's basketball team returns to Chicagoland to face Loyola, Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Gentile Center. For NIU, the game ends one sequence and begins another. The Huskies wrap a three-game road trip, their longest of the season, and start a three-game set against school located within the city limits of Chicago. The Huskies follow the Loyola game by hosting UIC, Dec. 29, then travelling to Chicago State, Jan. 3.
Northern Illinois leads the series between the Chicagoland rivals 10-6. Recently, the match-up has been a seesaw affair, with the teams alternating wins in each of the last six contests. Last time out, Loyola took a 72-54 over NIU during former Huskie head coach Carol Hammerle's final season.
The series goes back 30 seasons to when NIU won the inaugural contest 75-68 in January of 1980. Northern Illinois holds the longest winning streak with a set of fight straight wins spanning from 1987-96. Loyola has won back-to-back games against the Huskies only once in contests played in 1982 and 1985.
Northern Illinois is under fifth-year head coach Carol Owens, who has compiled a 59-68 record guiding the Huskies. Owens played for NIU from 1985-90, leading the Huskies to their first NCAA bid in 1989-90. Owens has also coached with Team USA, winning a total of four gold medals, including two as the head coach of the U18/U19 squad.
Loyola is led by first-year head coach Eric Simpson. The St. Ignatius High School (Chicago) graduate worked for two seasons as an assistant coach at Loyola under Shannon Reidy, who resigned in March. Simpson spent one year as the Director of Basketball Operations for the Rambler men's team, and served 10 years on the high school coaching circuit prior to that. A 1994 graduate of Northwestern, Simpson played four years for the Wildcat men's basketball team.
ON THE RAMBLERS
After opening the season 4-1 with only an overtime loss to Western Michigan demeaning a perfect record, Loyola has lost two games in a row. The Ramblers fell 62-54 at Wichita State, and lost by 43 to BIG EAST contender DePaul.
Elyse Vanbogaert heads up the Loyola attack, which is producing 64.0 points per game. Vanbogaert is averaging 12.9 points per game to with 4.0 rebounds. Keisha Collins is the only other Rambler averaging in double-figures at 10.9 points per contest.
ON THE AIR
Every NIU basketball game of the 2009-10 season can be head on the Northern Illinois ISP Sports Radio Network. Women's games can be heard on 1360-AM WLBK and Huskie All-Access at www.niuhuskies.com. Thursday's game will be televised live on Lakeshore Public Television (DIRECTV channel 56, Comcast channel 21 in many local areas). It will be the first time NIU has been on television this year.
The Huskies face Loyola, Thursday at the Gentile Center in Chicago to conclude a three-game road swing. The trip is the longest in both number or game and total days of the season. Though the Huskies will be away from the Convocation Center for 26 days, it's not even the longest away stretch in the Carol Owens era. In each of Owens' first three years, the Huskies went over a month between home games.
UNO, DOS, TREYS
Kylie York, the lone senior for the Huskies, hit a pair of three-pointers against Nebraska to become the top three-point shooter in school history. York has tied the NIU record with 221 career treys. Her totaled is equal to that of Denise Dove, who hit as many from 1987-91. York holds the second and third slot for threes in a season. She hit 77 as a sophomore, knocked down 76 last season, and ranks sixth in the MAC with 20 makes this year.
THREE AGAINST THE SECOND CITY
Northern Illinois tips-off the first of three straight opponents from within the Chicago city limits when it faces Loyola. The Huskies host UIC, Dec. 29, and travel to Chicago State to tip-off 2010 on January 3.
ILLINOIS ON MY MIND
The Huskies played their sixth of eight games this year against in-state teams when they traveled to Loyola. The total is the most in-state foes since 2006-07, when NIU also faced eight Prairie State rivals, beating six. Northern Illinois is currently 2-3 against Illinois teams, with wins over Bradley and Southern Illinois.
NIU VERSUS THE STATE OF ILLINOIS
Nov. 13 vs. Bradley W, 86-73
Nov. 17 vs. Western Illinois L, 50-48
Nov. 22 vs. Southern Illinois W, 74-65
Nov. 28 vs. No. 15 DePaul L, 78-67
Dec. 4 at Illinois State L, 85-57
Dec. 17 at Loyola 7 p.m.
Dec. 29 vs. UIC 7 p.m.
Jan. 3 at Chicago State 2 p.m.
IT'S A SMALL WORLD, AFTER ALL
Common opponents dot the NIU and Loyola schedules. Already this year, both teams have faced DePaul. The Huskies fell by 11, while the Ramblers dropped the contest to the Blue Demons by a 73-30 margin. Loyola has also faced future NIU opponents Western Michigan and Central Michigan, defeating the Chippewas but falling to the Broncos.
Northern Illinois is the only school in the Mid-American Conference to feature three scorers that rank in the league's top-15. Marke Freeman ranks sixth at 16.6 points per game, followed by Mauvolyene Adams in 12th at 12.8, and Ebony Ellis tied for 15th with 12.1 ppg.
Marke Freeman set a career-high with eight steals at No. 24 Nebraska. The junior swiped three in the first half and five in the second period. The total is tied for the fifth-most in a game in NIU history. That record is currently held by Huskie head coach Carol Owens, who totaled 11 steals against Western Illinois in 1988.
Not including the two freshmen, six Huskies have registered career-highs for points this season. Marke Freeman scored 27 points against Northern Iowa, the third time this season she set a personal scoring high. Other Huskies with career-highs include Ebony Ellis (22, vs. Bradley), Mauvolyene Adams (22, vs. SIU), Sarah Rogers (8, at Milwaukee), and Tenisha Wilson (10, at Milwaukee), and Courtney Shelton (9, at IUPUI).
Junior forward Mauvolyene Adams ranks fifth in the nation in double-doubles with eight this year. She tallied the first double-double of her career with an 18-point, 11-rebound effort against Bradley. She kept it up with double-doubles in each of the first four games this season. Her four-straight double-dips feat surpasses the three-straight double-doubles achieved by Ebony Ellis last season. She added a fifth double-double with a 12-point, 10-board performance against Northern Iowa.
The frontcourt duo of Mauvolyene Adams and Ebony Ellis is the best rebounding pair in the MAC. Ellis ranks third in the league at 10.3 per game, and Adams sits in fifth at 8.9 per contest. Together, their 19.2 rebounds per game is around two rebounds per game more than the next closest duos in the MAC. Ball State's Emily Maggert and Danielle Gratton average 17.3 and Buffalo's Kourtney Brown and Brigdette Kendricks combine for 17.0.
MORE ON DOUBLE DIPS
The frontcourt combination of Ebony Ellis and Mauvolyene Adams has totaled seven double-doubles in nine games this season. Adams has totaled five, while Ellis registered at least 10 and 10 in two contests.
Northern Illinois is the second-best team in the Mid-American Conference at defending the three-pointer. Huskie opponents have hit just 28.4 percent (28-of-110) of their downtown tries this season. Only Ohio has down better defending the three, allowing just 27.4 percent from behind the arc.
HAYWOOD YA BLOCK A SHOT?
Freshman forward Shaakira Haywood has wasted no time making herself known to players who venture into the paint. Haywood ranks 13th in the MAC in total blocked shots with six. The rookie swatted three attempts from Western Illinois, and blocked consecutive tries by IUPUI.