NIU chops FSU’s tomahawk


Shake, rattle and roll.

That’s what type of effort was needed by the NIU women’s basketball team Tuesday night to record its 13th win in 14 games—an 86-80 non-conference thriller over Florida State before 2,294 at Chick Evans Field House.

The shaking provided the 22nd-ranked Huskies (15-3) an early nine-point lead, then a 13-point second-half advantage.

The rattling was courtesy of NIU’s ability not to fold when the Lady Seminoles (10-10) erased their two deficits.

And the rolling came via some clutch free-throw shooting in the final five minutes.

Even with comfortable leads of 13-4 and 65-52, the Huskies were unable to put away the pesky Atlantic Coast Conference team. Not until NIU’s deadeyes stepped to the line.

The Lady Seminoles ran off 13 unanswered points midway through the second half to even things up at 65 with 8:11 remaining.

“I never saw us get rattled,” NIU head coach Jane Albright-Dieterle said. “On that 13-0 run, we never changed expressions.”

Debbie Teske (13 points) definitely turned the tide when she broke free for an uncontested lay-in off a feed from Leslie Pottinger 37 seconds later. The basket ended an NIU scoreless drought of nearly five minutes and gave the Huskies the lead for good.

NIU gradually increased its advantage to 12 (80-68) with 2:57 left. Florida State managed just one field goal during the 15-3 Huskie spurt, which encompassed more than five minutes.

E.C. Hill (14 points, eight rebounds) provided the biggest dent with three baskets in a span of 1:05.

Then the seniors took charge—namely Cindy Conner and Dianna Wingis. Each hit two free throws to close out the game-deciding run.

In the final minute, Conner and Wingis connected a combined four more times from the charity stripe to put the final chop on the Lady Seminoles, although Conner made the last few seconds interesting with a foul of Alison Arnoldi on her three-point attempt.

Conner reached the half-century mark in consecutive double-digit scoring games as she poured in a game-high 25 points, including a 3-for-7 effort from three-point range.

Wingis, meanwhile, notched her third double-double in four games with a season-high 17 points and 13 rebounds.

“It was a big, big night for (Dianna),” Albright-Dieterle said of Wingis. “If you have to guard (FSU’s) Tia Paschal, you have to work hard defensively every possession, and to be able to come up offensively … was a real big lift.”

The 6-1 Paschal paced the shorthanded Lady Seminoles with 23 points and 12 rebounds, while Christy Derlak and Danielle Ryan added 20 and 18, respectively.