Jan. 27, 2010
DeKALB, Ill. - Junior guard Xavier Silas poured in a career-high 31 points, and the Huskies recorded a plus-ten rebounding margin over visiting Ohio (11-9, 2-4 MAC), but the Northern Illinois men's basketball team (8-10, 4-2) was out-scored by 13 points in the second half, falling in a 99-84 decision versus the Bobcats at the Convocation Center Wednesday night.
Sophomores Mike DiNunno (16 points) and Lee Fisher (career-high 10 points) joined Silas, who scored NIU's first 15 points, in double figures. Junior guard Darion "Jake" Anderson scored eight points, pulled down eight rebounds and dished out six assists.
Ohio's starting five combined for 92 of the Bobcats' 99 points - Chicago native D.J. Cooper, a freshman point guard, poured in 29 points on 10-of-17 shooting, drilled five three-pointers and had six assists against zero turnovers. He was joined in double figures by Indiana transfer Armon Bassett (25 points), Reggie Keely (14), Tommy Freeman (13) and Kenneth Van Kempen (11).
Ohio shot 47 percent (31-66) from the field, and nearly 44 percent (10-23) from beyond the three-point line in the game - the Bobcats also had 16 assists against just six turnovers. NIU shot 41 percent (29-71), but just 23.1 percent from three (6-26).
""It was a tough game," said NIU head coach Ricardo Patton. "I don't think we came out with the defensive intensity that we should have, that we have exhibited all year; and that ultimately cost us the ball game. When you allow a team to score 99 points, shoot almost 50 percent from the floor and 40-plus percent from the three-point line, it's going to be a long night.
"When they went to [the 2-3 zone], it was working. We weren't penetrating or making smart plays (offensively). We thought we'd have to face zone because of their short bench. I thought D.J. Cooper was tremendous tonight. He makes them go, and he put on quite a show."
Silas came out on fire, hitting his first four shots, including three from three-point distance. Cooper added two field goals for Ohio, and NIU took an 11-5 lead at the first media timeout (15:55). After two-straight free throws and a layup in transition, Silas had scored NIU's first 15 points. But Ohio kept clawing, and took a 17-15 lead at the second media break.
Ohio's lead was extended to 25-20 with 8:39 remaining in the first half, after the Bobcats completed a 6-1 spurt. A conventional three-point play by Kowal trimmed the deficit to just two (25-23) at the ensuing second timeout (7:37). The Bobcats countered with five-straight points, and took a 30-23 lead after Cooper's fifth field goal of the half.
NIU answered with a 13-5 spree, and took a 36-35 lead with 2:13 remaining in the stanza after two free throws by Silas. Ohio quickly re-gained the advantage, and after Adetuni Adedipe finished a three-point play with a free throw, the Bobcats built the lead back to four, 40-36. Fisher's first field goal with 7.1 seconds remaining trimmed the deficit to 40-38 heading into the locker room at halftime.
Silas finished the half with 19 points, while Cooper chipped in 15 tallies on 6-of-10 shooting. Bassett also scored 12 points for Ohio, which shot 46 percent (15-33) in the stanza, compared to NIU's 38 percent (12-for-32) output.
NIU tied the game right out of the gate early in the second half, then claimed a 47-45 lead after two free throws by Silas. Four-straight points by Ohio gave the Bobcats a 49-47 lead at the half's under 16-minute (15:35) timeout.
After NIU trimmed Ohio's lead to 60-59 with 11:09 remaining, the Bobcats went on a 12-7 run, and took a 72-66 lead at the third media timeout (7:57). The advantage was then extended to 78-68 with 5:56 remaining after two free throws by Freeman. Anderson answered with four-straight points to pull NIU within 78-72, but the Huskies could draw no closer.
The Bobcats out-scored the Huskies 59-46 in the second half, capitalizing off 14 second-chance points, and 14 points in the paint. NIU's last lead of the game came with 16:39 remaining.
NIU's men's team will kick off the athletic department's "Cram the Convo" celebration Saturday (Jan. 30), when the Huskies take on visiting Buffalo beginning at noon. The women's team will follow with a 2:30 p.m. tip-off versus Kent State at 2:30 p.m., or 30 minutes after the conclusion of the men's contest.