No. 2-seed NIU tackles UIC first in NSC tourney

By Todd McMahon

The preference was to play Akron, but when you’re struggling to get on track, you’ll take the next best thing, er, the next worst team.

The NIU women’s basketball team will start anew on Thursday in the North Star Conference Tournament. Although the Huskies dropped their last three games of the regular season and finished one game above .500 (14-13), they may be the team to beat in the tourney.

Not only is NIU hosting the three-day event at Chick Evans Field House, the Huskies still have some unfinished business left to attend.

The Huskies, 8-4 in the NSC, secured the second seed by virtue of winning the tiebreaker against Valparaiso, who also finished 8-4. The two teams split their meetings during the regular season, but Valparaiso lost once to Wright State, while the Huskies won both meetings against the Raiders.

Thus, NIU draws last-place and seventh-seed Illinois-Chicago at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. The Huskies took it to the Flames twice earlier this year, 72-55 at UIC and 84-55 at the fieldhouse.

With a win over the Flames, NIU will get a shot at either Valparaiso or Akron on Friday. The Huskies suffered late-season defeats to both teams on the road and would love a chance at redemption.

Saturday could be judgment day for the Huskies. The championship game will decide who will represent the NSC at the NCAA Tournament. The expected matchup pits NIU and first-place Wisconsin-Green Bay.

The Huskies are entering the tourney after losing to the Phoenix for the second time this season, 75-66 at the fieldhouse last Thursday. UW-GB alen Bay.