The 28 regular-season game schedule includes the program’s first trip to Las Vegas since the 1988-89 season and its first game at a Southeast Conference foe since 1995 when it heads to Missouri.
NIU will open the regular season at home Friday, Nov. 14, when it hosts Illinois State, whom the Huskies defeated at Redbird Arena last season, 57-52, thanks in part to 11 made free throws by Danny Pulliam (Indianapolis, Ind./Pike).
The Huskies will play a variety of local teams, heading to UIC and Eastern Illinois Nov. 17 and 26, respectively, while also hosting Valparaiso on Thursday, Nov. 20.
For the second-straight season, the Huskies will head West for Thanksgiving as it plays in UNLV’s Lady Rebel Roundup, where it will meet South Dakota State in the tournament opener Saturday, Nov. 29. NIU will close the tournament the following day, meeting either Delaware State or UNLV.
NIU will then take a break for finals and return to the court Sunday, Dec. 14, as it heads to Missouri to take on the Tigers. It will be the Huskies first game at an SEC opponent since 1995 (Auburn). NIU is 0-11 against opponents from the Southeastern Conference.
The Huskies lone home game in December will take place Dec. 17, when NIU takes on SIU-Edwardsville. The non-conference schedule will end Tuesday, Dec. 30, when the Huskies head to Bradley.
“I think it’s a really good mix of local teams for those area bragging rights, playing Bradley, Valparaiso, UIC and Illinois State, which is really exciting,” head coach Kathi Bennett said. “We also get the chance to play one of the premier mid-majors in the country in South Dakota State in UNLV’s tournament, so those are going to be really tough games. Then we have a chance right before Christmas to play Missouri.
“I think everybody in our conference has raised their game; you have to do a great job with your non-conference schedule to get ready for conference and I definitely believe we have done that. One of our goals is to put together a great conference season, and we feel like our schedule is going to set us up for that,” Bennett said.
The 18-game Mid-American Conference schedule will tip off Saturday, Jan. 3, when the Huskies welcome Eastern Michigan. NIU and the Eagles last met in the first round of the MAC Tournament last season, when the Huskies were red hot behind the three-point line to sink EMU in overtime and earn a berth to Cleveland in the MAC Tournament, 81-76.
“Eastern Michigan is probably one of the more improved teams in the West. They have a great point guard in Cha Sweeney. As a freshman, she was first team all-conference and it will be great to see her and Danny go at it,” Bennett said.
NIU will play each MAC West foe at home and away but will also play a two-game series with Bowling Green – the defending MAC Regular Season Champions – and Kent State. The Mid-American Conference’s NCAA Tournament representative, Akron, will also come to DeKalb Saturday, Feb. 7.
The Huskies will play their final home game Wednesday, March 4, when they host Toledo and close their regular season Saturday, March 7, at Western Michigan.
The first round of the MAC Tournament will begin Monday, March 10, and resume March 12 in Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena and conclude March 15 with the championship game.
NIU finished 2013-14 with a 11-19 record including a 6-12 mark in the MAC, finishing ninth during conference play. The Huskies return all five of their full-time starters this season, including senior Amanda Corral (Hobart, Ind./Hobart) who entered the 1,000 point club last season and was a third-team All-MAC selection as she averaged 13.5 points per game.
For more information on NIU women’s basketball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.