2nd-place NIU faces surging Wright State

By Todd McMahon

So just how important is tomorrow’s NIU women’s basketball game against North Star Conference rival Wright State?

For starters, the 2 p.m. showdown at Chick Evans Field House could decide the fate of some teams in the NSC, particularly the Huskies and the Raiders.

NIU (12-9 overall) stands alone in second place in the league with a 6-2 mark, trailing Wisconsin-Green Bay by two games in the loss column.

Wright State (7-15, 4-4) is in fourth place and trails third-place Valparaiso by one-half game.

Before losing last night at Wisconsin-Green Bay, 77-60, the Raiders had won two straight NSC games, including an 84-69 win over Valparaiso on Feb. 1, to put the heat on the Huskies and Crusaders.

In its first meeting with NIU on Jan. 18, Wright State played the Huskies even for the first half (43-43) before Jane Albright-Dieterle’s crew went on a 19-6 run midway through the second half to pull out an 82-72 triumph.

NIU’s Angela Lockett scored nine points in that decisive spurt and finished with a game-high 21 points and 10 rebounds. E.C. Hill added 13 points and three assists.

In the last 11 games, Hill has rung up double figures in points in all but one. She’s averaging 14.4 points in those 10 games.

The Huskies are 7-3 in the sophomore’s latest double-digit offensive surge.

“Mentally, she’s grown up and matured,” Albright-Dieterle said. “She was the one we looked to (in Tuesday’s NIU win over Wisconsin-Milwaukee). She made some excellent decisions.”

“Game experience, along with practice, has helped her tremendously. In high school, she never went against Division I players, but now she’s going head-to-head with them everyday in practice.”

Hill and her teammates look to start their tough stretch ahead with a victory over the surging Raiders.

Trying to solidify a hold on second in the NSC, the Huskies finish the regular season with six games in two weeks, including a crucial game Tuesday at Valparaiso.