What we learned from the Huskies over break


Junior guard Courtney Woods (left), senior forward Kelly Smith (center) and junior guard Mikayla Voigt (right) celebrate a play in the Huskies’ 98-28 home win Nov. 4 against Benedictine.

By Ryan Ostry

The women’s basketball team (10-6, 2-3 Mid-American Conference) has had a successful 2017-18 season thus far, and it will be looking forward to their remaining opponents being all MAC teams, as conference play is in full swing.

Here are three takeaways from the teams’ action over holiday break.

1. The loss of sophomore guard Janae Poisson was tough, but dealing with another ACL tear by sophomore guard Myia Starks will be even tougher.

The sophomore guard out of Neuqua Valley has been a leader on and off the court this season. The 5-foot-4-inch explosive guard resembles a female version of Russell Westbrook with her grit and sheer willingness to win every game. Starks has been averaging over 31 minutes per game and 9.5 points per game, along with almost five assists and five rebounds per contest.

After Poisson went out earlier in the season, her roommate now has the injury. The roommate duo of Starks and Poisson would have been very tough for opposing teams to deal with, but now, with both players on the sideline, the Huskies will need to step up their game more than ever. If the team wants to enter the postseason as it did last year with another post-season appearance, its younger guards need to improve.

2. The Mid-American Conference is no joke.

The Huskies dominated non-conference play this season, going 8-3 in that span. So far, NIU has gone a mediocre 2-3 in MAC play, with good reason. The MAC has only two teams to date that are under a .500 record, Eastern Michigan Golden Eagles and University of Akron Zips. The Huskies are currently sitting at fifth place in the West Division in front of Eastern Michigan. At the halfway point of the season, NIU is going to have to pick up the pace and get on a winning streak if they want to compete for a MAC title this season.

3. The three-headed monster needs help.

The three names that every team knows they need to stop are junior guard Courtney Woods, who was just proclaimed MAC West co-player of the week, senior forward Kelly Smith with her team-high 56 percent shooting and the hot hand of junior guard Mikayla Voigt, who is shooting a staggering 44 percent from beyond the 3-point line. Together this three-headed monster is averaging a total of 51 points per game as it accounts for a majority of the team’s scoring, with the Huskies averaging 82 points per game. The game plan for every team is going to be to stop these dynamic players to have a good chance of beating the Huskies. However, with Poisson and Starks out, redshirt sophomore forward Ally May and freshman guard Gabby Nikitinaite, among others, are going to have to elevate their play and fill their roles to have the success they are capable of having.