Only one answer for NCAA entrance


No need for panic.

But leave some room for concern.

This will be the last day you’ll view ‘Northern Illinois’ as No. 21 in Mel Greenburg’s AP Poll.

If that doesn’t shock you, how about Saturday’s loss to the UIC Flames.

“Basically, we didn’t do what we needed to do,” mired NIU women’s basketball head coach Jane Albright-Dieterle.

That includes the swaddling of the national ranking.

Though, the loss to No. 26 DePaul didn’t help the notoriety, the 81-76 suffering at the Physical Education Building allows only one route to the NCAA Tournament—the Mid-Continent Conference Tournament in Green Bay.

NIU (17-5, 11-1) must go three-for-three come March 11-13.

If the Huskies falter somewhere in the midst of the tourney, they’re season is over. The loss to the Flames hurts any chances for an at-large bid.

“(UIC) caught us on a night that we’re still sick,” admitted Albright-Dieterle. “We were late because there was a player (Cindy Conner) sick.”

The ladies didn’t hit the hardwood until 15 minutes prior to the game. Bad weather helped detain their arrival but even the tardiness didn’t seem to affect them.

“I don’t think that had a thing to do with it,” Albright-Dieterle claimed. “We had a nine-point lead at halftime.”

UIC (13-9, 7-6) now can look forward to a short bus ride into Alumni Hall at DePaul this Thursday while the Huskies ponder over this defeat before Cleveland State comes to town, also on Thursday.

NIU did get one thing accomplished, though. UIC senior, Angela Gilbert, needed 26 points to break the school record for most career points for one player. Her 24 didn’t do that but were enough to break the Huskies hopes of an undefeated conference mark.

The 14-game consecutive win streak over conference foes has now been revoked but the home-win streak is still in possession at 15. A victory over the Vikings would set a new record dating back to last season, ironically, with a win over UIC.

‘Cindy Conner (17 points) extended her double-digit scoring streak to 54 games—seven shy of tying Carol Owens’ record 61. Conner can do it if the Huskies reach the title game of the Mid-Con Tourney.