Women’s basketball looks to kick off MAC play over break

By Jacob Onak

A tough road test is waiting for NIU women’s basketball as it looks to sharpen up its game and look ahead to the start of MAC conference play in January.

The Huskies (3-4) will be out on the road for five out of six games during winter break and coach Kathi Bennett said they are ready to play against tough teams.

“It’s going to be against great competition,” Bennett said. “We have DePaul who was ranked then we are going out to the tournament in Virginia, then we have in state rivals with UIC and Eastern Illinois.”

The Huskies will first take on the DePaul Blue Demons Friday. DePaul (6-3) is coming off of a 96-94 loss against Kentucky and will face off against the Milwaukee Panthers before it takes on the Huskies.

The Blue Demons are led by sophomore guard Brittany Hrynko. Hrynko has started all nine games for the Blue Demons, is averaging 14.2 points a game and is a threat from behind the arc with a 37.5 3-point shooting percentage.

The Huskies will then head home to face off against Eastern Illinois. Then they will play four games straight on the road, including the Cavalier Classic Tournament in Charlottesville, Virginia.

When the four game road trip concludes NIU will start MAC conference play as it comes home to take on Buffalo, Jan. 10.

The Huskies have continued to be a defensive team under Bennett and the Huskies coach said her team needs to be stronger in the paint on defense.

“I feel defensively we have to sure up our inside,” Bennett said. “Our defense is built inside-out so we really have to do a better job to sure that up.”

Offensively the Huskies have struggled at times this season. With only six games left to play before conference play Bennett said the Huskies need to limit their turnovers.

“Offensively [we need to work on] just taking care of the ball,” Bennett said. “Really trying to be able to break pressure down and have some poise one-on-one with the ball and be able to execute where we can get a good shot. We are shooting a good percentage, we are moving the ball and we just have to do a better job of it.”

This will be an important run of games for NIU as it wants to gain some momentum going into MAC play.