Top 5 newcomers | No. 3: Kelly Smith fills key void for women’s basketball

By Frank Gogola

Kelly Smith, women’s basketball freshman forward, takes the No. 3 spot in Sports’ top five newcomers after playing a key role on an injury-riddled NIU squad.

Smith averaged nine points (third best among MAC freshman) and 4.1 rebounds per game as she was named to the MAC’s All-Freshman Team. She played in all 29 games and started 15 games in the post due to a rash of injuries which depleted the roster.

Smith exploded onto the scene in the season opener, scoring a game-high 17 points to go along with five rebounds and one steal in 36 minutes. She became the first freshman to score at least 10 points and lead the Huskies in scoring in the season opener since 2007-08.

“She’s a natural scorer,” said head coach Kathi Bennett, according to a Nov. 17 Northern Star article. “She’s got a high release and [she] loves to compete, just plays fearlessly. That’s what I love the most.”

Smith’s best game came on Jan. 28 against the Bowling Green Falcons as she recorded her first career double-double. She scored 15 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and dished out two assists.