Cagers beat old MAC foes

By Jeff Kirik

When the NIU men’s and women’s basketball teams swept a double-header from their Toledo counterparts Wednesday night, the Huskies gained a little more than a pair of wins.

The Huskie cagers also picked up the extra satisfaction that comes with beating a school in their former league, the Mid-American Conference.

After her team’s 71-56 win, NIU women’s coach Jane Albright said she found some extra pride in the win.

“I had a lot of sentiment going into the game,” she said. “There wasn’t as much emotion out there tonight as I thought there would be, but then again, there were about five kids out there who weren’t with us last year. I really wanted to win it.”

Senior forward Shelly Roberts agreed the players had some extra incentive entering the game.

“The players who were here last year were talking before the game about how much it would mean to win,” said Roberts. “They (the MAC schools) think we feel we are better and they don’t like it. It’s like we showed them tonight that we did make the right move (leaving the MAC).

“We beat them tonight and proved we can compete with the big-time schools,” she said.

Albright said she thought the Rockets gave an extra effort because of the outside circumstances.

“I think definitely Toledo wanted to win it because of it (NIU’s move). The MAC’s view of us is that we wanted to go big-time and get out of their small conference,” she said. “Actually that is pretty much the reason why we left. They took it as an insult.”

The women’s team might have had a little more reason to get geared up for the game than the men since Toledo is the only MAC school the women’s team will play all season.

The men’s team plays three different MAC schools in a total of seven games this season. They have already lost to Western Michigan twice and defeated Ball State and Toledo once. The men will play each of the three teams again on the road before the season ends.

First-year NIU men’s coach Jim Rosborough echoed Albright’s feelings after his team’s 72-69 win, but indicated the win might mean a little more to his players than to himself.

“Getting the wins is what is important. I wasn’t involved with it (moving out of the MAC),” he said. “But I think the kids really enjoyed beating Toledo tonight.”

“We had to come out and show that we could play with them,” said junior guard Rodney Davis. “We wanted to show them that we were improved (since last year).”

Davis also said the Huskies wanted the win for a more sentimental reason.

“They’re the ones that put us out of the MAC tournament last year,” he said. “We felt we owed them one for that.”