Huskie Women's Basketball Gives Former NIU Coach Albright, Shockers a Scare Before Loss

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December 19, 2005

Box Score

Huskie Women's Basketball Gives Former NIU Coach Albright, Shockers a Scare Before Loss

WICHITA, KS ---Despite missing its two top rebounders, the Northern Illinois University women*s basketball squad threw a scare into former NIU coach Jane Albright*s Wichita State University squad before falling short 76-69 at WSU*s Charles Koch Arena Monday (Dec. 19) night.

In the *coach versus player* match-up between Albright * who remains NIU*s winningest women*s basketball coach having compiled a 188-110 ledger over 10 seasons (1984-94) * first-year Huskie coach Carol Owens* charges rallied from deficits on a few occasions only to have the Shockers pull out the victory in the final two minutes. The triumph boosted Wichita State to 5-2 on the season while Northern Illinois dipped to 2-6.

*Obviously I*m disappointed in the loss, but very proud of how we came back, especially in the second half,* Owens insisted. *We made a really good come back, and actually had a couple of shots at the end but also turned it over.*

After trailing by nine at intermission, 37-28, and early in the second half, 47-38, Northern Illinois pulled to within two, 48-46 on a Stephanie Raymond (Rockford / Lutheran) reverse lay-in. After a lay-up and three-pointer by Kyrie Kinder gave WSU a seven-point advantage, the Huskies had their best offensive surge outscoring their hosts 17-7 to take a 63-60 lead thanks to a Becky Smith (Janesville, WI / Parker) lay-in off a Raymond assist. Wichita State*s Kiki Stephens made a hard-way three-point play to tie the contest before Northern Illinois* Whitney Lowe (Bushnell / Bushnell-Prairie City) drove for two of her career-best 14 points for a 65-63 lead.

However, Stephens answered with yet another hard-way three-point play for a 66-65 WSU lead with 3:49 to play. A pair of Nichole Switzer free throws at 2:48 made it a 68-65 contest before NIU*s Kristin Wiener (Apple Valley, MN / Academy of Holy Angels) hit from the left side to pull the Huskies back to within one.

However, the momentum completely swung the way of the Shockers when Raymond was whistled for her fifth foul and the team*s 10th of the second half with 2:12 left to be played. Whitney Rice made both free throws for a 70-67 lead. At 1:49, Northern Illinois* Nikita Odom (Hazel Crest / Country Club Hills Hillcrest) --- making her first start of the year in place of 6-foot-3 junior Jennifer Uptmor (Centerville, OH), who became sidelined by a sprained ankle in the morning shoot-around --- drove for a bucket. But instead of getting a potential game-tying free throw, the NIU 6-1 sophomore was whistled for an offensive foul and the bucket was waved off. Wichita State capitalized with a lay-in from Antionette Wells for a 72-67 lead.

*Stephanie fouling out really hurt us,* Owens admitted. *She*s the heart and soul of our team and it*s tough when you have that type of leadership sitting on the bench.*

After a missed three-pointer, Wichita State*s Stephens made one of two free throws and when the Huskies turned the ball over on the next possession, Stephens hit a breakaway lay-in for a 75-67 cushion. Rice added another free throw while NIU*s Jessie Wilcox (Oshkosh, WI / West) hit one final lay-in to account for the final score.

*In addition to Steph fouling out, we missed a shot and turned the ball over, and then our heads went down,* Owens noted. *We*re still making some mental mistakes, but hopefully we*ll learn from them. (Mid-American) conference play is coming up and hopefully these tough lessons will pay off then.*

Stephens led Wichita State*s attack with 14 while starters Rice and Switzer added 12 and 10, respectively. While 6-foot-4 scoring leader Antionette Wells was limited to six points, Marcy Sudbeck came off the bench to add 10 for WSU.

Raymond finished with a game-high 21 points followed by career highs of 14 and nine from Lowe and Odom, respectively. Odom also shared game-high honors for rebounds with seven as NIU was outboarded 37-34 with Uptmor and senior reserve Jamie Wilson (Reynoldsburg, OH) also sidelined by knee trouble. Wiener finished with eight points along with seven and six from Mary Basic (Lemont / Chicago Heights Marian Catholic) and Wilcox, respectively, plus a season-best four for Smith.

NIU returns to action on Dec. 29 with a 4 p.m. (CDT) contest against Florida International University in FIU*s Sun & Fun Classic which includes the University of Arkansas and Coppin State University. The losers of Thursday*s games meet in Friday*s 4 p.m. consolation with the winners playing for the tournament trophy at 6 p.m.

(For further information, please contact Steve Nemeth) —NIU—