Huskies Return Home to Host UNI Panthers

GO HUSKIES Alicia Johnson was 3-for-3 from the field with three steals last Tuesday at South Dakota State
GO HUSKIES
Alicia Johnson was 3-for-3 from the field with three steals last Tuesday at South Dakota State
GO HUSKIES

Dec. 20, 2013

NIU-UNI Notes Get Acrobat Reader

Game 9 - vs Northern Iowa (DeKalb, Ill.)
Saturday, December 21 (1 p.m.)
Live Stats:
 NIUHuskies.com
Radio: WLBK 98.9 FM, 1360 AM; NIUhuskies.com
Play-by-Play: Andy Garcia, Ethel Gregory
Video: NIUHuskies.com
Twitter: @NIUscores

Game 9 - vs Northern Iowa (DeKalb, Ill.)
Saturday, December 21 (1 p.m.)
Live Stats:
 NIUHuskies.com
Radio: WLBK 98.9 FM, 1360 AM; NIUhuskies.com
Play-by-Play: Andy Garcia, Ethel Gregory
Video: NIUHuskies.com
Twitter: @NIUscores

FOLLOW THE HUSKIES ALL SEASON LONG
Northern Illinois women’s basketball can be followed in a myriad of ways throughout the season. Audio of all of NIU’s games will be available for fans to listen to live and on on-demand (subscription required). Play-by-play man Andy Garcia, now in his third year, will be on the call for all of NIU’s games this season and is joined by former Huskie assistant coach Ethel Gregory during home games. Fans can also follow the team on Facebook and Twitter. Like “NIU Huskies” on Facebook and follow @GoHuskiesWBB and @NIUathletics on Twitter. Gameday updates and scores from all women’s basketball games can be followed on Twitter @NIUscores.

FREE PARKING FOR ALL HOME BASKETBALL GAMES
The NIU Convocation Center will offer free parking for all basketball home games this season. Fans are asked to park in the C-2 and C-3 parking lots. For more details on other changes to gameday and to view a detailed parking map of the area, visit NIUHuskies.com.

THE ONE MONTH ROAD TRIP IS OVER
Playing its last four games on the road, the Northern Illinois women’s basketball returns home for its first home game in exactly one month as it hosts Northern Iowa Saturday, December 21 at 1 p.m.

THE HUSKIES AND THE PANTHERS
Saturday’s matinee will be the 17th meeting between the two universities and renew the flame that was last lit in December 2010. Northern Iowa leads Northern Illinois in the all-time series, 9-7, but it was NIU who had the last laugh as it defeated the Panthers December 2, 2010 in Cedar Fall, Iowa, 71-64, in the last meeting. The Huskies have been near dominant at home in the series as they are 6-3 in DeKalb but have lost two of the last three. Complete series results are listed on page 6 of the notes packet.

LAST TIME OUT
NIU made its first ever trip to the state of South Dakota for Tuesday night basketball at South Dakota State. The Huskies had their hands full with the Jackrabbits, who entered with three-straight wins against 2013 NCAA Tournament opponents, including one against then-No. 12 Penn State. The recent accomplisments did not intimadate Northern Illinois despite SDSU jumping out a 10-2 lead. The Huskies battled back to within one thanks in part to a Jacks five minute scoreless run.

The NIU defense continued to work and junior Amanda Corral went to work offensively as she charged a 7-0 comeback run to put the Huskies ahead 23-22 with six minutes remaining in the half. Corral also sunk a shot as time expired at Frost Arena to put NIU back within three points at halftime, 30-27. She finished the half with 12 points.

The Jackrabbits continued to call on their lead, but the Huskies would respond each time and record a stop or cause a turnover when needed. A 13-0 run by South Dakota State in the final eight minutes of the game would be the dagger however, as NIU would fall 67-50. The NIU defense recorded 12 steals in the game and limited South Dakota State to 67 points, 10 points less than what they averaged over the last four games. Corral led all NIU scores with 14 points in the game, while Natecia Augusta and Danny Pulliam each contributed eight.

SCOUTING THE PANTHERS
Through its first 10 games this season, Northern Iowa owns a 3-7 mark and has lost five of its last six games. UNI was last in action on December 10 at South Dakota, falling 87-67 to the Coyotes at the DakotaDome in Vermillion, S.D. Three nights prior, December 7, the Panthers had their biggest win of the season versus Saint Louis in Cedar Falls, defeating the Billikens, 74-65. UNI took advantage of turnovers as it created 12 points on those opportunities, while also amassing 40 points from its bench. Northern Iowa staked claim on North Dakota earlier this year as it beat both UND and North Dakota State. On November 17, the Panthers took on South Dakota State in Brookings and fell to the Jackrabbits, 80-44.

Sophomore forward Jen Keitel leads the team in scoring and field goal percentage, boasting a .488 clip from the field and 11.1 points per game. Keitel has pulled down 28 offensive rebounds so far this year and is also averaging 5.9 boards and 1.2 blocks per contest. The final pass of the ball will come from anywhere on the court as five players have 10-or-more assists. Madison Weekly paces the squad with 1.7 helpers per game but is also averaging double figures in scoring with 10.5 points per game.

COACH WHITMAN ON NORTHERN IOWA
“They usually play about nine different players, so they’re going to put a lot of kids on floor. A lot of what they run is a five out motion, meaning they set a lot of screens so I think it’s important that we communicate on the screens and not get caught chasing them around the court. We have to remain in our gap system defense and be in position. That’s going to be important for us.”

Assistant Coach Debbie Whitman is in her second season with the Northern Illinois women’s basketball program, serving last season as the Director of Basketball Operations. She previously was the Head Coach of the girls team at DeKalb High School. She played three seasons (1990-93) at Northern Illinois was a member of the NIU Hall of Fame 1989-90 basketball team.

MISSOURI VALLEY SWEEP
The Huskies are looking to make history this Saturday as they look to complete their first ever 3-0 sweep against teams from the Missouri Valley Conference since the start of the NCAA era in 1982-83. NIU has twice gone 2-0 against MVC foes, doing so in 2006-07 as it defeated Illinois State and Bradley, and again in 1989-90 versus Southern Illinois and Creighton. The Huskies have also twice gone 2-1 against foes from The Valley, doing so in 2002-03 and 1983-84. During the 2002-03 campaign, Northern Illinois started 2-0 as it defeated ISU and BU, but fell to the Panthers in the pivotal sweeper game. Huskie fans will hope that history does not repeat itself in this instance.

CLAMPING DOWN
The Northern Illinois defense has been stifling in its last three games as it has averaged 57 points allowed per game in that span. Four-times this season, NIU has held its opponents to 60-or-fewer points, all of which have led to Huskie victories. For the season, NIU is only allowing other teams to rack up 64.3 points per game, the 111th lowest average in the country out of 343 ranked teams. That average is the second-best in the Mid-American Conference.

PERIMETER DEFENSE
The Huskies have not allowed its opponents much success behind the arc this season as opponents are only shooting .266 behind the three point line this year, the top-mark in the MAC and 52nd best in the NCAA.

JUST STEAL IT
The pressure on South Dakota State when it had possession Tuesday night was smothering as the Huskies collapsed the post and attacked the perimeter, acquiring 12 steals in the contest and causing 15 turnovers. Northern Illinois has not recorded 12-or-more steals since it registered 19 steals versus Ball State January 19, 2011 in Head Coach Kathi Bennett’s first season.

DEFENDING THE HOME COURT
Northern Illinois has enjoyed its time at home so far this season as it is 2-0 at the NIU Convocation Center. The Huskies defeated Mississippi Valley State in the opener November 12, 79-60, and followed up on November 21 with a 63-60 win over Bradley. NIU has not played a home game in exactly a month. After Saturday’s game, NIU will play it’s final home game of December when it hosts Illinois-Chicago on the 31st. With a win, NIU will begin its home season 3-0 for the first time since 2003-04.

A FAN OF THE DRAMATIC
Junior Amanda Corral turned some heads at Frost Arena in Brookings, S.D. with her ability to score and control the floor. About 13 minutes into the game with some help from the defense, Corral went on a 7-0 scoring run to give the Huskies a 23-22 lead. It did not end there either. After a defensive stop with five seconds left in the first half, Corral took the inbounding pass down the floor, hesitated at the key and threw a jumpshot up with about 0.2 seconds left on the clock to bring Northern Illinois back within three points heading into the locker room, 30-27.

THREE IS THE MAGIC NUMBER OFF THE BENCH
Senior Alicia Johnson came off the bench for the first time all season at South Dakota State and was a major contributor and pace setter for NIU in the contest. Johnson, who was held scoreless over the last four games, contributed a big seven points for the Huskies. Her first basket of the game came on a fast break as she stripped the ball on the perimeter and dribbled it down the court for a layup. She also accounted for a three point play in the game, converting a layup while being fouled and making the ensuing free throw. No. 30 finished 3-for-3 from the field and also accounted for three steals. For the season, Johnson is averaging 3.1 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. It’s the magic number.

A MODEL OF CONSISTENCY
Senior Alicia Johnson has been one of the Huskies top-performers at the free throw line in her four years at Northern Illinois and is 11-for-11 through seven games this season. On November 8 at Green Bay, Johnson was 6-for-6 in front of the Phoenix student section. Against Mississippi Valley State last Tuesday, Johnson was 4-for-4 at the line. As a junior in 2012-13, she was 9-for-10 at the charity stripe. Dating back to her sophomore year, Johnson has made 25 of her last 26 attempts at the free throw line (.962). In her four seasons at NIU, she owns a .783 career free throw percentage.

THE CENTURY CLUB
Saturday afternoon’s game will be Head Coach Kathi Bennet’s 100th game in charge of the Huskies. In her previous 99 games, Coach Bennett has racked up a record of 38-61 for a .383 winning percentage. In her career, Bennett is 338-284 for a .584 winning percentage with a Division III National Championship, WBCA National Coach of the Year honors and a myriad of other coach of the year honors throughout her 21 year career.

NEXT UP
The NIU Huskies will close out 2013 and their non-conference schedule Tuesday, December 31st at 1 p.m., hosting UIC.