No shame for Huskies as they see year end in D.C.


In the aftermath of NIU’s heartbreaking 76-74 loss at Georgetown Wednesday night in the opening round of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament, low spirits weren’t the norm.

While the Lady Hoyas celebrated at midcourt with the biggest crowd (1,517) ever to see them play following Leni Wilson’s two game-winning free throws with one second left, the Huskie bench was more shocked than saddened.

Rather than allow their tears to flow down to the Potomac River, the 1992-93 Huskies kept their heads up as they left McDonough Gymnasium knowing all well their magical season may have come to an abrupt end, but it wasn’t all lost in the game’s final five seconds.

“I told my team that … I didn’t want them to leave anything here when we went home,” said a composed NIU coach Jane Albright-Dieterle after the devastating circumstances, “and I guarantee you everything we’ve got was out there. That’s what our goal was, and I’m very, very proud of them.”

“It was a very intense game,” explained sophomore Leslie Pottinger, who scored 11 points and pulled down a team-high 12 rebounds in 25 minutes off the bench. “Just being with my team in that kind of situation, I love them to death because of the

way we played.

“We all laid our guts on the line, and when you do that, you really can’t complain about anything. I’ll always remember that feeling of being on a team like that.”

It was the ‘team’ that produced the 24-5 pre-NCAA tourney record, and it was the ‘team’ that almost fueled the plane up for a date with Penn State Saturday.

While the Huskies’ collective unit amassed a 57-35 rebounding advantage over the smaller Lady Hoyas, they had to battle through adversities the entire game just to be in a position to win.

After its three previous games—all at Wisconsin-Green Bay—were played before a throng of Huskie backers, Wednesday’s crowd in tiny McDonough was virtually all blue and gray.

When when NIU’s perimeter defenders did their job on GU all-time leading scorer Kris Witfill by allowing her just six points in the first half, along comes the 5-10 Wilson.p

he Lady Hoyas defied the odds by repeatedly going to Wilson against NIU’s ‘giants,’ and the senior responded with 20 points in the opening half.

Wilson finished with a career-high 30 to go along with a game-high 13 rebounds, but more importantly, she made Albright-Dieterle go to her bench early and often to offset the foul problems.

No problem for the Huskies, who all year exhibited reserve threats. The trio of Pottinger, Caryn Alexander and Charmonique Stallworth scored 34 points, grabbed 31 rebounds and produced five steals in their combined 63 minutes.

Alexander and Pottinger picked the team up in the first half, which ended at 37-37. They continued the inspired play in the second as neither team had more than a four-point cushion for the first 16 minutes.

A layup by Wilson made it 74-69 Georgetown with 3:52 left, then in stepped Stallworth. The freshman from South Bend, Ind., sank three free throws—the last coming with five ticks left—to cause a 74-74 deadlock.

Then the spirit of NCAA tournaments past engulfed NIU. Stallworth missed her second FT attempt at 0:05, Wilson grabbed the rebound and the whistle signaled the end: foul on Cindy Conner; Wilson to the line; and two throws wins the game for the Lady Hoyas.

As Pottinger summed up afterwards, “it’s just the way life goes.”

And as far as life and NIU are concerned, there is a tomorrow. No need to lower your heads.