Huskies forced to accept “moral” victory


There was a victory in the 90-79 loss to the University of Southern California even though the scoreboard showed differently.

Head coach Jane Albright-Dieterle considers the loss a moral victory.

“I didn’t want to come away with a moral victory, but that is what we did,” said Albright-Dieterle. “This was a great team that beat us and they are very capable of going undefeated.

“We played with them and that is all that matters.”

The game was a lot closer than the final score would indicate. The Huskies got a great deal of their offensive output from E.C. Hill who scored a game high 35 points. She was 10-of-17 from the charity stripe and 3-of-11 from long distance. Caryn Alexander also chipped in 20 points and led the Huskies with 11 rebounds.

The Huskies went into halftime down by just a point at 35-34. They could have easily had the lead at half.

After USC forward Lisa Leslie (14 points) put her team up 33-30, Alexander hit two free throws to put the Huskies within one. A USC missed shot allowed Hill to grab the rebound and drive the length of the court where she was fouled with 33 seconds left. After making both to give NIU the 34-33 lead, Nicky McCrimmon nailed an 18-footer and USC regained the lead.

Again the problem with the Huskies was their shooting. They shot just 33 percent for the game.

“Our obvious problem is our shooting,” said Albright-Dieterle. “We have a lot of players working together for the first time so there isn’t a lot of rhythm or continuity.”

There was however, a lot of effort on the team. The Huskies went down by as much as 17 points with 7:17 left to play in the second half before making a run at USC. The run looked more promising when two of USC’s starters fouled out, Leslie with 5:47 left and Jualeah Woods with 5:02 left.

After Leslie fouled out, the Huskies went on a 10-4 run to pull within six points. Alexander and Leslie Pottinger sandwiched two free throws each around two by Woods. McCrimmon and Hill traded missed free throws before USC scored inside to go up 79-67.

The Huskies would go on to score six unanswered points as Alexander hit a 19-footer and two free throws and Charmonique Stallworth hit two free throws. Unfortunately 79-73 was as close as NIU would come as USC went on a 6-0 run of their own.

“If I’d have known that it would be this tough, I would have stayed in broadcasting,” joked USC coach Cheryl Miller who made her coaching debut. “They were beating us on effort and we came out more aggressive and tougher in the second half.”

McCrimmon led the charge for the Women of Troy as she hit pullup jumpers left and right on her way to a 27-point performance. Rock Island, IL native Tracy Atwater chipped in 19 points in front of her family and friends for USC.

“They are better than the polls say they are,” said Albright-Dieterle. “I’m not embarrassed at all to get beat by Southern Cal by 11 points.”

The Huskies will have a week of rest before playing the Athletes in Action next Wednesday. Albright-Dieterle stressed that the off week will be used for conditioning and working on shooting. NIU has shot in the 30 percent range in all three of their loses.

“If I’d have known that it would be this tough, I would have stayed in broadcasting. They (NIU) were beating us on effort, and we came out more aggressive and tougher in the second half.

Cheryl Miller

USC women’s basketball coach