Women’s basketball prepared for Central Michigan

By Frank Gogola

DeKalb | Women’s basketball (6-7, 2-1 MAC) looks to keep its strong conference play going as it hits the road, a place where it has struggled.

The Huskies will face the Central Michigan Chippewas (7-8, 3-0 MAC) at 6 p.m. today in Mt. Pleasant, Mich. The Huskies have opened conference play at 2-1 but are only 1-5 on the road this season, while the Chippewas are 3-0 in conference play and 3-0 at home.

Head coach Kathi Bennett said the key to making sure the Huskies bring their energy and cofidence from the last game on the road is to play with confidence.

“I mean, I know it’s on their court, but there’s nobody that we can’t beat, and there’s nobody that can beat us, nobody that we can lose to, too — that’s who we are,” Bennett said. “And we should have a great deal of confidence going into Central [Michigan] and just play our hearts out.”

NIU has already matched its conference win total from last season, when it went 2-14. Its only conference loss so far came by two points, 73-71, Thursday at Toledo.

The Huskies most recently defeated the Eastern Michigan Eagles (11-3, 1-2 MAC) Sunday at home. Junior guard Amanda Corral posted a career-high 30 points and redshirt junior forward Jenna Thorp grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds in the 77-54 win.

The Huskies averaged 61.4 points per game during non-conference play, but they have averaged 74 points per game in three conference games. They gave up 64.9 points per game during non-conference play, but they have allowed only 59.3 points per game during conference play.

The Huskies’ lone road win in six games came on Dec. 5 at Illinois State, a 57-52 victory.

The Chippewas are undefeated during conference play, with two wins coming on the road and one win coming at home. Each of their three conference wins came by 13 or more points.

Chippewas junior guard Crystal Bradford put up 19 points, grabbed 16 rebounds and dished out 11 assists in CMU’s 82-68 defeat of Buffalo on Sunday. She became the fourth player in CMU history to record a triple-double; it was the first triple-double of her career.

Through its first three conference games, CMU has averaged 91.7 points per game and has surrendered 74 points per game.

Bennett said having played Eastern Michigan Sunday should give the Huskies a good look into what Central Michigan will present because EMU and CMU play similar styles of basketball.

“[The EMU game] is a great game to get ready for Central [Michigan] because they run and press, run all zone,” Bennett said. “It’s a great way to get ready. We’re going to go there and expect to win. That’s the mentality that we have to have.”