Senior Marke Freeman, who led the Northern Illinois women’s basketball team with 16.1 points and 2.5 steals per game, was voted to the All-Mid-American Conference Second Team by the league’s coaches and media, the conference announced Tuesday.
“Marke has been our catalyst in so many ways this year, this award really comes as no surprise,” said NIU head coach Kathi Bennett, who just finished her first season in DeKalb.
Freeman ranked in the league’s top-10 in MAC play in six different categories, including scoring (8th, 15.9 ppg), rebounding (9th, 7.4 rpg), steals (1st, 2.5 spg), free throw percentage (3rd, 86.7 percent), defensive rebounds (5th, 6.2 drpg) and minutes (5th, 36.3 mpg).
The Springfield, Ill., native is only the third player in NIU history to average at least 14.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.0 steals per game for a career, joining WNBA veterans E.C. Hill and Stephanie Raymond.
“Like all our players, Marke had to adjust to a whole new way of doing things,” Bennett said. “That’s tough, but she learned and grew so much. I just wish I had one more season with her and all of our seniors.”
This year, Freeman scored at least 20 points on 11 occasions, including two 30-point outings. At only 5-foot-5, she set a career-high with 17 rebounds in NIU’s regular season match-up with Ohio, currently the fifth-most rebounds by any player in the MAC this season.
Freeman’s final season at NIU will be remembered for excitement and scoring, but her clutch shooting from the free throw was just as key in helping the Huskies win. Freeman went 42-of-43 from the foul line in the final 1:00 of regulation and overtime. That total includes Freeman hitting three straight free throws with six seconds left in regulation at Buffalo to force overtime in a game the Huskies eventually won.
Once asked what she thinks when stepping to the free throw line in late game situations, Freeman said: “Make them.”
The second-team recognition came for a second year in a row. Freeman was also named the league’s Sixth Player of the Year in 2008-09, her first season at NIU.
The Huskies finished the season 13-17 overall, with a 7-9 record in MAC play. Despite losing three starters from a year ago, NIU improved its conference win total by 75 percent, and defeated two regular season conference champions.
For more information on NIU women’s basketball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.