Huskies triumph in season tuneup

By Alex Gary

MILWAUKEE—While the rest of us were traveling home for Thanksgiving last Wednesday, NIU’s women’s basketball was hard at work as the Huskies posted a 77-51 exhibition win over Snitz Manufacturing, an AAU team, at Wisconsin Lutheran College.

“I felt we had to learn how to play at a competitive level outside our fieldhouse,” said NIU head coach Jane Albright-Dieterle.

The Huskies quickly broke the game open against Snitz, scoring the first eight points, and they gradually lengthened the lead to 18 by halftime, 37-19.

Defense and rebounding were the keys to NIU’s success. The Huskies harrassed Snitz for 15 first-half steals, seven of those by junior guard E.C. Hill, and they outrebounded the taller Snitz team 31-15 for the half.

“Tonight we wanted to emphasize our defense,” Albright-Dieterle said. “We really took them out of their offense, that’s what I’m most pleased about.”

The second half was more of the same for the Huskies. Snitz only made one run at NIU, cutting the score to 43-30 with 12 minutes left in the game, but the Huskies then reeled off 10 points in a row and went on cruise control after that as each player saw substantial playing time.

Freshman guard Charmonique Stallworth tied for most points with 10, along with senior forwards Cindy Conner and Tiana Burkholder. Burkholder also led NIU in rebounding with 11. Senior guard Julie Gainer added four assists for the Huskies.

Despite the large victory, NIU had a tough night shooting. The Huskies finished the game shooting 37.6 percent (35-93) from the field and only eight percent from the three-point stripe (1-12).

Albright-Dieterle attributed the frigid shooting to being on the road for the first time and also because Snitz surprised them and played a zone defense.

“We haven’t taught (the players) a zone offense yet,” Albright-Dieterle said laughing. “We called a quick timeout and put in a simple (zone) offense. Great coaching move on my part.”

NIU officially opens the season Tuesday night at Southern Illinois.

‘Albright-Dieterle also received official word during the holiday break that 6-3 center Kim Johnson of Hoffman Estates High School signed a National Letter of Intent to play at NIU next year.