Huskies eye UIC before tourney

By Todd McMahon

In one short week, the NIU women’s basketball team will know where they stand heading into the season that counts the most.

The Huskies (13-10 overall, 7-3 in the North Star Conference) could start laying some of the foundation with a victory tonight against the University of Illinois-Chicago at 7 p.m. at Chick Evans Field House.

UIC (6-18) enters the contest in the conference cellar with a mark of 2-8. In its last meeting with NIU (Jan. 27), the Flames suffered a 72-55 defeat.

The Huskies had 18 steals and forced 30 UIC turnovers that night. Cindy Conner led NIU with 23 points and eight rebounds.

Four nights later, the Huskies traveled to Green Bay, Wis., and lost their first league game, 62-57, to Wisconsin-Green Bay. That loss, combined with a loss to Akron on Feb. 8, has put the focus on second place for NIU.

Although NIU lost to Valparaiso for the first time ever on Tuesday, the Huskies are still alone in second. With a victory over the Flames, the worst NIU could finish is in a tie for second with the Crusaders.

With a possible matchup between NIU and Valparaiso in the NSC tournament looming, Huskies head coach Jane Albright-Dieterle said the loss to the Crusaders isn’t a big deal.

“We’re in Valparaiso’s bracket (for the tourney),” she said, “but if we were going to lose to them, I’d rather have it here (at Valparaiso).”

Before that matchup can take place on March 6, there is the question of who the Huskies will face the day before in the opening round.

Akron, whom Albright-Dieterle and her team would dearly love to face, stands at 2-7 in the conference, a half-game ahead of UIC. The Zips have three games remaining, while the Flames lose out their league slate against UWGB Sunday.