NIU performs ‘Field House Follies


Mirror, mirror, on the court: who’s the focused of them all?

Based on what’s taken place the last month, NIU’s women’s basketball team just may lay claim to that distinction. Furthermore, the performance executed Tuesday night lends even more support to sports’ age-old question.

After getting pounded around by two Pac-10 schools (Southern Cal and Arizona) in December and the Big Ten’s supreme power (Iowa) two weeks ago, No. 22 NIU (15-3) needed to prove a point against Florida State that it could play with top-flight competition.

Play the Huskies did against Marynell Meadors’ Atlantic Coast Conference ballclub, which entered the contest shooting 48 percent from the floor.

NIU held the Lady Seminoles to just 45 percent from the field while hitting on a season-high 55 percent of its shots in the 86-80 victory.

“One thing we were able to do was kind of like a mirror,” explained Huskies head coach Jane Albright-Dieterle. “You play a team that shoots every time down and you’ve got to shoot because that’s the only way to stay in the game. Consequently, we shot 55 percent.”

Albright-Dieterle attributed her team’s phenomenal performance on the offensive end to two things.

“One, our shot selection was probably perfect,” she said. “I don’t know if it’s ever been any better. … And then, we just concentrated extremely well.”

The Huskies could ill-afford to let down their guard against an FSU squad which faced the likes of No. 9 Maryland (twice), No. 12 North Carolina (twice), No. 14 Virginia (twice) and No. 21 Clemson all in the last month.

Timely shooting then became a factor in NIU’s hopes of recording its 14th straight home triumph.

First, Debbie Teske provided the spark her team needed to start the game. The senior knocked down three of the first four Huskie baskets to help NIU jump out to a 13-4 lead five minutes in.

Then, with just a five-point advantage at the half, it was time to turn to the most consistent Huskie, Cindy Conner. Conner scored 16 points in the opening seven and a half minutes of the second half to up the ante to 65-52.

After one more FSU run, it came down to E.C. Hill and Dianna Wingis to bring home the ‘W’. The duo scored 15 of NIU’s last 21 points, with Hill providing eight and Wingis seven free throws.

“In practice, we’re working a lot harder with the post,” said Wingis of her 17-point, 13-rebound performance. “We’ve been concentrating more on staying on the box, not getting so far outside. Emphasizing that in practice has really helped me.

“You’re seeing a mentally tough team,” Albright-Dieterle stated. “One that wanted to win real bad. They were all prepared individually.

“They’re serious about this. We’re right where we want to be, and we’re not wanting anybody to come near us.”

Nobody except that mirror.