Record-Setting Defensive Performance Leads Huskies to 66-45 win over North Dakota
Jan. 2, 2010
DEKALB, Ill. - Junior guard Xavier Silas poured in a game-high 24 points on 8-of-13 shooting, including a career-high six three-pointers, lifting the Northern Illinois men's basketball team (3-8) to a wire-to-wire 66-45 win over visiting North Dakota (2-13) Saturday afternoon at the Convocation Center. The Huskies have now won two-of their last three games.
Silas' 24 points led all scorers. Junior center Sean Kowal and freshman guard Tony Nixon each chipped in eight points, and sophomore forward Michael Fakuade scored seven points and collected a career-high four blocks. Sophomore forward Lee Fisher scored five points, all from the free throw line, and pulled down a career-high nine rebounds in his third-straight starting assignment.
NIU's defensive effort was among one of the best single-game performances in the seven-year playing history of the Convo. North Dakota shot just 30 percent (12-40), the lowest defensive field goal percentage for NIU in the 83 games the Huskies have played in the facility.
It also marked the lowest single-game output for field goals (12), and tied the lowest point total for an opponent over those seven seasons. Silas became one of just three NIU players to convert six or more three-point field goals at the Convocation Center.
"I was very pleased with our effort today," said NIU head coach Ricardo Patton. "I thought we did a nice job on the offensive end, with guys sharing the basketball and turning down tougher shots to look for their teammates. Anytime you have 18 assists on 22 field goals, it shows you are effectively sharing the basketball.
"We've played well enough to win a lot of games on the defensive end all year long, but I've felt for the past couple of weeks that we need to become more of an unselfish team on the offensive end. I thought we made some progress in that area here tonight."
NIU jumped out to the early 9-2 lead, led by Silas two threes in the opening 2:03. North Dakota was forced into its first timeout at the 13:34 mark, after the Huskies' lead was extended to a dozen, 14-2. NIU hit four-of its first six shots, with five different players scratching the scoring column in the stretch.
The Huskies' lead reached 22-4 with 10:46 remaining, after a quick 8-0 run that saw Nixon hit three-straight shots, including two threes. North Dakota was forced into its second timeout as a result. Tyler Storm hit a three-pointer of his own with 9:20 remaining, his first since the Illinois game on Nov. 20. The Huskies' lead was pushed to 28-7 at the under-eight media timeout.
The Huskies finished the half on a 6-4 run to take a 34-11 lead into the locker room at halftime. Kowal and Nixon each scored a game-high eight points, while Silas chipped in six and Mike DiNunno had five. The Fighting Sioux, who shot just 15 percent (3-20) from the field, were led by leading scorer Travis Bledsoe's three points. The 11 points was the fewest points an opponent has scored in one half versus NIU since Western Michigan scored just 15 points in the opening frame on Feb. 25, 2009.
UND opened the second half on a 10-2 run and pulled within 15 points (36-21) at the first media timeout of the second half (15:35). The Sioux's Chris Clausen hit back-to-back threes to cap off the spurt. NIU's lead was trimmed to just nine points twice in the ensuing two and a half minutes, as North Dakota's three-point barrage continued. Five of UND's first seven field goals of the frame came via the three-point shot. But in both cases, Silas converted a field goal to push NIU's advantage back to double digits.
After going on a 10-2 run, Northern Illinois pushed its lead back to 17 points (49-32) with 7:51 remaining. Jeremy Landers came off the bench to provide three field goals in the stretch, including a steal and coast-to-coast layup that set up a conventional three-point play situation.
The lead grew to 22 points (56-34) with 6:31 remaining after back-to-back treys by Silas, vanishing any hope for the Fighting Sioux to mount one more comeback. With 1:58 remaining, each team had two players whistled for technical fouls after a loose ball foul was called against North Dakota. Patton was also called for a technical foul. North Dakota's Travis Martens and Chris Clausen received the technicals, while Mike DiNunno and Landers were whistled for the violation for NIU.
NIU will travel to the Windy City for the third time this season, facing host Chicago State at the Jones Convocation Center next Wednesday (Jan. 6) beginning at 7 p.m. The Cougars are 5-8 on the season, and have won two-of their last three overall. CSU is 3-2 at home. NIU posted a 93-81 win over the Cougars last season (12/6/08) in DeKalb, and is 21-0 all-time versus Chicago State.
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