Highsmith named MAC West player of the week

Freshman guard averages 18.5 points per game in two road wins

Dontel Highsmith

Dontel Highsmith

Northern Illinois University freshman guard Dontel Highsmith was named Mid-American Conference West Division Player of the Week Tuesday.

Highsmith, a native of Dowagiac, Mich., averaged 18.5 points and 3.0 rebounds last week, helping the Huskies to a pair of road victories at Loyola-Chicago (Dec. 18) and UC Riverside (Dec. 22).

Last Wednesday at Loyola-Chicago, Highsmith scored 10 points, grabbed three rebounds, registered an assist and a steal while helping NIU erase a 15-point second half deficit to defeat the Ramblers, 55-49. Highsmith scored seven of his 10 points during the second half comeback, going 3-for-3 from the field after the intermission. The win was NIU’s first at Loyola since 1995, snapping a five-game road losing streak in the series.

Sunday in Riverside, Calif., Highsmith scored 27 points on 9-of-11 shooting, 3-of-5 from behind the arc and 6-of-6 from the free-throw line, to lead NIU to a 71-64 victory at UC Riverside. Highsmith’s 27 points were the most by a Huskie since Xavier Silas netted 34 on Feb. 12, 2011 against Kent State, and are the most for a Huskie freshman since Mike DiNunno scored 27 on Nov. 18, 2008 against Indiana State.

The pair of victories helped NIU improve to 5-5 on the season and marked NIU’s first back-to-back road wins since defeating Chicago State on Jan. 6, 2010, and Ball State on Jan. 9, 2010. Highsmith is averaging 9.6 points and 3.3 rebounds per game this season, shooting 54 percent (34-of-63) from the field.

NIU will return to action New Year’s Eve – Tuesday, Dec. 31 – when the Huskies travel to Ames, Iowa, to face the 17th-ranked Iowa State Cyclones. Game time is scheduled for 6 p.m.

For more information on NIU men’s basketball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.

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