Huskies Fall to Ball State in MAC Road Opener, 60-54

GO HUSKIES Dzepina had a career-best eight rebounds
GO HUSKIES
Dzepina had a career-best eight rebounds
GO HUSKIES

Jan. 13, 2009

Final Stats

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MUNCIE, Ind. - Despite holding its second-consecutive conference opponent under 40 percent shooting from the field, the Northern Illinois men's basketball team (5-9, 1-1 MAC) dropped its Mid-American Conference road opener, 60-54, versus host Ball State (7-7, 2-0) Tuesday night.

The Huskies limited the Cardinals to just 38.6 percent shooting, including a 37 percent mark in the first half. But Ball State out-scored the Huskies 33-20 in the second half, and finished the game with an efficient 17 assists on its 22 field goals.

Darion "Jake" Anderson led the Huskies in scoring for the 10th time this season, pouring in 16 points to go along with a team-high tying eight rebounds. Freshman guard Mike DiNunno chipped in 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting, and Sean Kowal added 10 points. The Huskies were playing their second-consecutive game without the services of reserve guard Michael Patton, who continues to nurse a high right ankle sprain, and did not make the trip to Muncie.

Ball State was led by Jarrod Jones and Rob Giles, who each contributed 11 points in starting roles. The Cardinals were playing their first game without three-time MAC-West Player of the Week Anthony Newell, who will miss the remainder of the season with a broken leg.

The game was tightly contested in the early stages of the second half, with a combined six ties and lead changes in the opening 7:50. Anderson's lay-up at the 12:10 mark gave NIU a 15-11 advantage, their largest lead to that point. The Cardinals knotted the score at 19-19 with 7:32 remaining in the opening stanza, before NIU countered with a 5-0 spurt to take a 24-19 lead; the run was capped off with a dunk by Kowal with 5:22 left in the half.

After BSU trimmed the Huskies' advantage to 28-27 at the 1:58 mark, NIU rolled off six-consecutive points to end the half, and took a 34-27 lead into the locker room at intermission. The Huskies owned a 16-6 first-half advantage in the paint, and committed just five turnovers.

Najul Ervin, who started the first-half, did not start the second frame. With 52 seconds remaining in the first half, he hit the floor, and then limped to the bench on his own; he did not return to the lineup. With Lee Fisher starting in his place, NIU jumped out to a game-high nine-point (37-28) lead with 17:26 remaining.

Ball State answered with a commanding 11-2 run, and tied the game at 39-39 after a lay-up by Laron Frazier. NIU re-gained the lead, and pushed it to a four-point (48-44) advantage with 8:18 left after a jumper by Sean Smith. But the Cardinals answered again, stringing together a 5-0 spree to take a 49-48 lead with 6:57 remaining.

NIU tied the game at 49-49 after Anderson split 1-of-2 free throws, but never took the lead again. Ball State finished the game on an 11-5 run.