Women’s hoops to clash with Zips

By Frank Gogola

Women’s basketball will attempt to put an end to its season-long four-game losing streak in a mid-week matchup.

The Huskies (8-14, 4-8 MAC) will take on the Akron Zips (15-8, 9-3 conference) at 6 p.m. today at James A. Rhodes Arena in Akron, Ohio.

NIU lost to Akron, 71-67, in their first meeting Feb. 5 at the Convocation Center. The Zips used a 7-0 run, including a rare five-point play, in the final 18 seconds to come back and beat NIU.

Despite shooting 45.5 percent (25-55) from the field and four Huskies posting 11 or more points, NIU committed 19 turnovers, its highest turnover total in conference play, including five in the final 3:40. NIU outrebounded the Zips, 42-39, but was outscored in second-chance points, 16-13.

“Against Akron, we have to do a better job of limiting them to second-chance points; that’s where we foul,” said head coach Kathi Bennett. “… So if we limit them [to] one shot and out or [we] defensive rebound, now we’re not at the disadvantage where we foul on the rebound or on the kick out for the 3[-pointer]. So, we have to eliminate [second-chance points]. We got to do a great job on the defensive boards, without question.”

The Zips come in as one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the MAC. They have connected on 34.1 percent (73-214) of their 3-point attempts during MAC play, the No. 3 mark in the MAC.

The Huskies held the Zips to only 21.4 percent (3-14) shooting from beyond the arc in their first meeting. Bennett said it will take a similar effort to slow down a high-powered Akron offense that is averaging 82.4 points per game in conference play, which is No. 2 in the conference.

“Akron is one of the most explosive offensive teams in the MAC,” Bennett said. “… They’re just very high powered, and we don’t do it individually. We got to do it by playing great team defense. We did that for like 37 minutes against them at our place.”

In the first meeting, the Zips were paced by senior forward Rachel Tecca’s game-high 23 points on 44.4 percent (8-18) shooting from the field. She added eight rebounds, three steals and two assists in 33 minutes.

“Rachel Tecca’s one of the best posts in the Midwest,” Bennett said. “She commands a double [team]. You really got to play together and rotate and talk, so it’s going to be crucial that we play great team defense.”