Preview: Women's basketball aims to remain undefeated in conference play

Redshirt freshman guard Kalle Martinez drives down the court on Jan. 5 in McGuirk Arena.

Coach Sue Guevara and Co. held Ohio, the top-ranked Mid-American Conference team in scoring, to a season-low 70 points on Jan. 9.

The next test, Northern Illinois, poses nearly the same defensive challenge for the Central Michigan women's basketball team. The Huskies rank second in the MAC in scoring at 82.9 points per game.

The Chippewas (11-3, 2-0 MAC) take on the Huskies (9-5, 1-1 MAC) at 2 p.m. Jan. 12 at the Convocation Center in DeKalb, Illinois.

CMU is ranked No. 5 in the Mid-Major Top 25 poll and received votes in the Associated Press Top 25 rankings.

Mikayla Voigt started all 30 games for Northern Illinois last season, and she is back at it again this season. The 5-foot-9 senior guard averages 21.9 points and 5.4 rebounds per game to pace the Huskies. She's managed to convert 53-of-121 (43.8 percent) attempts from downtown.

Ranking fourth among MAC rebound leaders is Voigt's teammate, redshirt junior forward Ally May, with 7.3 per contest.

While May's numbers on the boards are impressive, CMU boasts the top conference rebounder in senior forward Reyna Frost – with 11.5 per game. She also ranks 14th in rebounding among all NCAA Division I players while averaging 18.4 points.

Frost has been named the MAC West Division Player of the Week three-straight times, and she's on pace to capture another following a 23 point, 17 rebound performance in an 88-70 victory against the Bobcats a few days ago.

"There's the size of the heart and there's no fear," CMU coach Sue Guevara said of Frost. "I think that's half the battle. You go in and you go in confidently. And the other thing is, she's put in the work. And that's the bottom line."

Going hand-in-hand with the on-court threat Frost poses is her senior teammate, Presley Hudson.

Hudson, after a 24-point outing Wednesday, needs just 71 points to pass Crystal Bradford as CMU's career scoring leader. Bradford scored 2,006 points from 2011-15 for the Chippewas and was selected with the 7th overall pick in the 2015 WNBA Draft by the Los Angeles Sparks.

The 5-foot-6 guard ranks third in the MAC with 21.5 points per game. With five triples against Ohio, Hudson became tied for 24th in NCAA history for career 3-pointers with 349 made attempts.

"She lives, dreams and breathes basketball,” Guevara said. “Championship teams are coached by players on the floor, Presley has done that since day one.”

Along with Frost and Hudson, CMU gets double-digit scoring efforts from sophomore guard Micaela Kelly, who averages 14.1 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game. Even though Kelly works as an up-tempo guard, she's managed to make 45.3 percent of shots from 3-point range.

“Presley gets so much attention that they don’t look at (Micaela),” Guevara added. “If you ever come to practice when she and Presley are on opposite teams, it’s a 3-point battle war.”

CMU sophomore forward Kyra Bussell has emerged as a force off the bench in recent weeks, even surpassing starting freshman Jahari Smith in total points and rebounds.

Bussell currently averages 7.4 points and 4.9 rebounds per game, knocking down 36.8 percent of 3-point shots.

"Our bench has produced for us, which is something we talked about earlier in the nonconference," Guevara said.

Following its matchup against Northern Illinois, CMU returns home to take on Miami (Ohio) at 7 p.m. Jan. 16 at McGuirk Arena. The RedHawks are 10-3 overall and 1-1 in conference play.