NIU offense could recreate magical year

By Todd McMahon

Shades of 1989-90?

Based on what’s happened in the first quarter of this year’s schedule, the NIU women’s basketball team is beginning to offer some semblance of that magical season in which the Huskies finished 26-5 and led the nation in scoring.

Entering last Sunday’s game against Valparaiso, Jane Albright-Dieterle’s team was 10th on the country scoring charts. After posting its second straight 100-plus-point game with 102 against the Lady Crusaders, NIU has given new meaning to cartoon hero Speed Racer.

The Huskies have scored at least 84 points in each of their five victories. Three times they have bettered the 90-point plateau, including the first century-club game of the young season last week against Manhattan College—a 109-56 NIU rout.

Seven games into the 1992-93 campaign, the Huskies are averaging a modest 87.4 points per contest.

After the first seven games three years ago, NIU sported the same 5-2 mark this season’s potential point-busters have recorded. Even more striking is the Carol Owens-led team of ‘89-90 was averaging 92 points a game at that point in the year

just 32 points (644-612) more than this year’s squad.

What’s caused this sudden power surge from a team that averaged just 79 points a game a year ago? Balance.

Five players notched double-digit scoring games against Valparaiso, marking the fourth time this year that feat has been accomplished.

Then there are the seven Huskies who are averaging 6.5 points or better, compared to just five players a year ago. Three of the seven are bench players Leslie Pottinger (8.7), Caryn Alexander (6.8) and Charmonique Stallworth (6.7).

While Cindy Conner put on a clinic against Valparaiso with 26 points, five steals and a career-high 18 rebounds, the NIU reserves once again turned in a stellar performance.

Pottinger notched her third consecutive double-figure game with a career-high 16 points. The sophomore also pulled down seven rebounds and dished out four assists.

Stallworth contributed to the bench total of 36 points with 12 on 5-of-7 shooting and added five boards and two blocked shots. Her freshman counterpart Chelsea Schwankl made the most of her 18 1/2 minutes with eight points and three rebounds.

“Our bench was very effective (Sunday),” Albright-Dieterle said. “I think Leslie Pottinger and Charmo were extremely effective in what their roles are. Leslie passed the ball well, took care of the ball, got some boards and scored a lot of points in a high percentage game.”