Undefeated NIU, UW-GB thicken Conference plot

By Todd McMahon

The schedule makers of the North Star Conference must have known something was up when they created the schedule for the league’s last hurrah this season.

As fate would have it, this year’s conference favorites will convene Friday night in Green Bay, Wis., with perfect 5-0 records. NIU (10-6) and host Wisconsin-Green Bay (13-4) meet at the Phoenix Sports Center to conclude the first round of conference play.

The two teams will also renew acquaintances February 27 at Chick Evans Field House to close out the regular season before the post-season tournament begins March 5 at the fieldhouse.

“It (Friday) is a crucial game for both teams,” NIU head coach Jane Albright-Dieterle said. “We’re both playing real good basketball right now.”

The Huskies are coming off a 72-55 victory over last-place UIC Monday night. In that game, NIU continued to hit the offensive glass with 23 rebounds and offset a second straight sub-40 percent shooting night.

“We’re not a real good shooting team, as we have been in the past,” Albright-Dieterle said. “But we’re going to the basket more and getting more chances and consequently, more points.”

Capitalizing on second and third chances will be a key for a NIU victory against the conference’s top defensive team. The Phoenix have held their opponents to 59 points a game and their .405 field goal percentage defense ranks second in the league behind UIC.

“The key to the game will be hitting the offensive boards,” Albright-Dieterle said. “If we get some offensive rebounds, we’ll get some points.”