Huskies look to cash in at Quicken Loans arena

By Matt Hopkinson

NIU women’s basketball will be in Cleveland, Ohio at the Quicken Loans Arena for the second round of the MAC tournament for the first time since 2009.

The No. 7 seeded Huskies (13-16, 6-7 MAC) will square off against number No. 6 seeded Akron (14-17, 7-9 MAC) Wednesday to decide who will face No. 3 seeded Toledo.

The regular season matchup between NIU and Akron took place Jan. 25 and NIU came back from down 14 in the first half to win 72-66.

Huskies’ coach Kathi Bennett said she’s well aware of what it will take on both ends to secure a second round victory, and is focusing on the implementation of it come game night.

“We know what they like to do,” Bennett said. “They like to get out in transition and not penetrate as much, but shoot the three. They have three players on the floor that can shoot the three, and their all big so they really stretch you out.”

The game will differ largely just based on the elapsed time since the first meeting, but there will also be a few additions and subtractions.

NIU will be without leading scorer, freshman Claire Jakubicek who has been out with a broken foot, while Akron will have a double figure scorer in sophomore Sina King who missed the first matchup.

The Huskies will have to depend on the recent contributions on the offensive end from freshman Amanda Corral and junior Satavia Taylor, as well as the rest of the reserve corps.

“A lot of people have really stepped up,” Bennett said. “Satavia has been scoring well, Shaakira has come in and given us good defense. We’re playing really good basketball, playing it at the right time.”

This matchup also features the first game for NIU at a neutral site, but senior Kim Davis knows that won’t be a factor, nor will previous performances, that the focus must be on this game.

“We don’t really worry about the location,” Davis said. “We just go out and play. Our confidence is pretty good but we know we have to go out there and work for our win. It’s not going to be easy.”

Bennett acknowledged the task ahead, but revels in the opportunity and the moment they’ll be in.

“It’s conference time, it’s what you dream about,” Bennett said. “It’s going to be a fun game, a hard and physical game.”