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Sports

Raymond validates national promotion

Northern Illinois guard Stephanie Raymond goes up for a layup during the Huskies’ 73-70 victory over Toledo on Wednesday. Raymond scored a career-best 30 points. Chronicle photo HOLLY LUNDH
Northern Illinois guard Stephanie Raymond goes up for a layup during the Huskies’ 73-70 victory over Toledo on Wednesday. Raymond scored a career-best 30 points. Chronicle photo HOLLY LUNDH

DeKALB - On a day when Northern Illinois launched a campaign to bring her national recognition, Stephanie Raymond added another highlight to an already prolific season. In a 73-70 victory, the Huskie point guard torched Toledo for a career-high 30 points on Wednesday night at the Convocation Center. Raymond shot 9-of-18 from the floor, including 5-of-7 from three-point range, and connected on 7-of-7 free throws to reach the 30-point plateau for the third time this season. The senior also dished out six assists and swiped three steals. In the post-game press conference, Toledo coach Mark Ehlen became another oppossing coach to marvel at the feats of the 5-foot-5 Raymond. &#8220Holy crap,” Ehlen said as he looked at the stat sheet before joking, &#8220It looks like we defended Stephanie Raymond pretty well tonight. &#8220Obvisouly, she was the difference in the game,” he added. &#8220We tried different people on her, we tried all kinds of things, but she played pretty well.” Well enough to validate the promotional effort put forth by the NIU Media Relations Department. Sports Information Director Donna Turner sent an e-mail on Wednesday to national women's basketball media and All-America voters highlighting Raymond's accomplishments. Raymond's resume includes top 10 national rankings in assists (sixth with 6.6 per game) and free throw percentage (seventh at 91.2 percent). She is on pace to break NIU's single season record for assists per game as well as the school's single season and career free throw percentage marks. The Rockford native ranks second in the Mid-American Conference and 27th nationally in scoring with an 18.8 average. On Wednesday, Raymond exploded for 11 points in the first four minutes of the second half, sinking three three-pointers and scoring a layup to give the Huskies a 16-point advantage. NIU coach Carol Owens praised Raymond's unselfish play and said the coaching staff needs to tell the senior to shoot more. &#8220I think what makes Stephanie such a great player is that she is very unselfish,” Owens said. &#8220We've had to tell Stephanie to shoot a little bit more. She has the ability. She also has the ability to create for others, which she does. I just think her all-around game is impressive. I think that's why she's, if not the best, one of the best players in this league.” Owens is not simply hyping her own player, countless MAC coaches have left DeKalb singing Raymond's praises, including Bowling Green coach Curt Miller who called Raymond a favorite to win the MAC Player of the Year Award after the Falcons beat NIU 85-76 on Feb. 10. Kevin Chlum can be reached at kchlum@daily-chronicle.com.

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