Northern Illinois University women’s basketball website lists sophomore guard Ally Lehman as 5-foot-10.
It should come as no surprise to her former Indian Creek High School teammates that — from the standpoint of size and her role on the team — she’s bigger than advertised.
The 6-foot Huskies guard, who leads the team in three statistical categories, laughs at the oversight.
“One of the girls on our team is 5-10 or 5-11 but was recently put down as 5-6,” Lehman said, laughing. “Maybe we’re trying to trick everyone; I don’t know.”
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Lehman’s hoops comfort zone at the collegiate level expands every time the Huskies step onto the court for a practice or game.
The sophomore has started all 11 games this season and has been as consistent as her school’s colors along the way.
Her scoring average of 8.5 points is second on the team behind Hobart High School product Amanda Corral (15.3 ppg), a 5-6 senior guard. Meanwhile, Lehman is her team’s pacesetter in rebounds (7.8), assists (3.6) and steals (1.5).
All this on the heels of a favorable first impression by Lehman — a freshman campaign in which she started 27 of 30 games and averaged 6.2 points, 4.4 boards and 2.4 assists for an 11-19 NIU ball club.
The Huskies currently sport a 5-6 record, having defeated Eastern Michigan 54-48 in overtime Saturday in what was the Mid-American Conference opener for both teams.
Lehman finished with five points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals. It was only the third time all season she didn’t lead Northern Illinois in rebounding or tie a teammate for top honors.
No surprise then that Lehman, who also is second among Huskies players in blocks with seven, averages 33.6 minutes of playing time. She tallied a career-best 22 points in NIU’s 65-50 loss to Valparaiso in November.
Fifth-year NIU coach Kathi Bennett said, “I have a hard time not having Ally on the floor right now. She’s our best rebounder, and she calms us down on the floor when we don’t have our regular point guards in the game.
“She’s up there in minutes played this year. I know I need to rest her more, but Ally’s been good for us this year. She runs the offense well, she’s very crafty, and she’s become one of our better defenders on the team. She’s really done a great job of playing consistently.”
Lehman is the youngest of Bennett’s three captains for the 2014-15 season. Corral and 5-11 senior forward Jenna Thorp are the others.
High praise for a player not even to the midpoint of her collegiate basketball career.
“Basically, I got that role because I spoke up when no one else wanted to. Being able to speak up at practice was difficult for me at first, but now it comes more natural,” Lehman said.
Northern Illinois averaged just under 14 victories during the past six years.
As the Huskies prepare for Saturday’s game at Central Michigan, Lehman, who came to NIU hoping to help spark a turnaround, feels progress is definitely being made.
“We’re doing a lot better than last season, and I think it’s all team chemistry. We do more off the court than we did last year. Ever since the game at Missouri (a 47-44 loss Dec. 12) we’ve been moving the ball better. It’s knowing your teammates are out there and playing for a win rather than stats,” Lehman said.
“I think we have an opportunity to turn the corner this season. It’s whether or not we can play 40 minutes. We can’t have these little lapses like we’ve been having at the beginning of the second half.”
Spoken like a team captain.
THE LEHMAN FILE
Name: Ally Lehman
High school: Indian Creek H.S. (2013)
College: Northern Illinois University
Points per game: 8.5
Rebounds per game: 7.8
Assists per game: 3.6
Steals per game: 1.5