Huskies to shoot for 20th win at Valpo

By Bob Regan

There’s no need to remind NIU women’s basketball coach Jane Albright about the last two games.

The fifth-year Huskie boss is well aware of her team’s recent losses to DePaul and Southern Illinois, and knows that tonight’s 7:00 road matchup against Valparaiso is a very important game.

“We need to get back on track,” Albright said. “To get back within our running game and the things that have given us our success all year long. Defensively we need to come up with more steals. We need to dominate a game. We’ve been in a stalemate and we need a good game.”

The last time these two teams met, NIU pounded its way to a 103-65 win led by Gena Stubbs’ 26 points. The Crusaders (6-18, 3-8) may not pose a major threat to the Huskies (19-5, 10-1), but Albright and crew are keeping a cautious eye on a team that would love to jump on the “upset-the-Huskies” bandwagon.

“Having Northern Illinois written across your chest used to mean that you had to work a little harder, get in the dirt a little more,” Albright said. “Now its like teams smell a Top 20 team. We’re going to adjust to that role. It’s a learning experience and it’s a fun thing to go through.”

Being on the road has not been easy for the Huskies this year. All five of their losses have been on foreign ground. However, after tonight’s game, NIU will return to the friendly confines of Chick Evans Field House for the remainder of the conference games. The Huskies have the nation’s 10th-best home record at 10-0.

Valpo is coming off an 80-72 loss to the University of Detroit and is led by 5-8 sophomore Stephanie Greer (9.5 points per game). The Crusaders are basically a young team with a lot of depth, and head coach Dave Wolter will use as many of his 14 players as necessary to wear down the Huskies.

NIU, which lists only eight players on its roster, welcomes No. 15 back to the Huskie lineup. Dee Dee Jeske returned last week and saw some playing time in Monday night’s loss to SIU. Jeske, who was sidelined with a knee injury, will offer her defensive talent and quickness to a Huskie squad that is starting to feel a little fatigued.

Huskie center Carol Owens leads the team with 21.2 ppg., but has been feeling a slight strain in her knees lately. However, Owens gets a chance to rest following Saturday’s game with Marquette. The Huskies have a week off before ending the regular season against Wisconsin-Green Bay.

A win over Valparaiso would mark the first time in NIU women’s basketball history that a team has won 20 games in one season.

“That’s a mark for our program,” Albright said. “It’s the magical 20th win, it’s never been done before (by the women’s team). Everybody wants to win 20 games. That’s going to make me feel very good.”

More impressive is the chance for the women’s team to become the winningest team in both men’s and women’s basketball. Former NIU men’s coach Tom Jorgensen’s 1971-72 team compiled a 21-4 record. Victories over Valparaiso, Marquette and Wisconsin-Green Bay would round out the women’s 1988-89 season at a 22-5 record.