Zips score first-ever victory over Huskies

By David Lance

Dating back to the 1988-89 season—when the two teams first met—the NIU women’s basketball team had handled Akron with ease.

Before Saturday night, the Huskies had beaten the Lady Zips all eight times they’d played. And with Akron’s record at 4-18 this season, prospects were good NIU would make it nine straight.

Not so.

Behind forward Beth Holmes’ game-high 25 points, Akron dropped NIU’s North Star Conference record to 6-2 (11-9 overall) with a 75-72 home win in front of 400 fans. Akron improved to 2-6 in the conference.

“It was an extremely low night for our team to lose to them,” NIU head coach Jane Albright-Dieterle said. “I think we were very flat. We had some opportunities to win. We didn’t get some key rebounds in the end. Akron played better than we did.”

NIU played without senior guard Dee Dee Jeske, who was bothered by sore knees.

“(Her injury) is nothing major,” Albright-Dieterle said. “We want her in March.”

After being down 47-32 early in the second half, Akron tied the score at 49 with 12:17 to play. Tied at 71 with 49 seconds left, E.C. Hill put NIU up one by hitting the second of two free throws. At the 27-second mark, Leigh Burdette (nine points, 11 rebounds) hit a jumper to put Akron up 73-72

After stopping the Huskies on their next possession, Akron went up 75-72 on two Holmes’ free throws with 12 seconds on the clock.

Guard Cindy Conner led NIU with 23 points, including four-for-four shooting from three-point range. Hill added 17 points and a team-high 10 rebounds. Forwards Deb Teske and Tracy Mondek scored 10 points apiece.

Yontami Bell had 19 points and 11 rebounds for Akron.

NIU’s next game is Tuesday night when it plays at Klotsche Center against Wisconsin-Milwaukee, a non-conference opponent.