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DEKALB, Ill - Freshman guard Mike DiNunno (15 points) led the Huskies in scoring for the sixth time this season, but visiting Bowling Green broke a 53-53 tie with a commanding 16-8 game-ending run, and secured a 69-61 win over the Northern Illinois men's basketball team (6-13, 2-5 MAC) at the Convocation Center Saturday.
In its third-consecutive Mid-American Conference loss, the Huskies were out-rebounded, 38-29, and finished just 35.7 percent (5-of-14) from the free throw line. NIU dropped to 0-10 this season when being out-rebounded by its opponent.
DiNunno's 15 points were a game-high tying output, along with Bowling Green's Nate Miller, who tallied 15 points to go along with nine rebounds. NIU sophomore center Sean Kowal joined DiNunno in double figures with 12 points, and Lee Fisher recorded career-highs in both points (9) and rebounds (8). BGSU had three players in double figures, including Darryl Clements (12 points) and Otis Polk (10).
NIU got off to a quick start, jumping out to a 7-0 lead behind two field goals by senior Sean Smith. But the Falcons fought back to tie the game (11-11) after Miller's second field goal of the first half. The Huskies opened up as large as a six-point advantage in the ensuing four-minute stretch, but BGSU countered with a 7-0 spree, and took its first lead (18-17) with 9:33 remaining in the opening stanza.
The Falcons built their largest first half lead of four points (28-24) with 5:44 left in the first frame, after Dee Brown's layup capped off a quick 4-0 run. NIU answered with an ensuing 8-1 spurt, and claimed a 32-29 lead at the 3:46 mark of the first half. Ante Dzepina and Bryan Hall each had transition layups in the run.
BGSU trimmed NIU's lead to one, 35-34, heading into the locker room at halftime.
Bowling Green went on a commanding 13-5 run over the first 6:00 of the second half, and opened up a 47-39 lead. NIU answered with six-straight points, including a conventional three-point play by Fisher, to trim the lead to just two, 47-45, with 13:36 remaining.
The series of runs continued, with the Falcons streaking to a 53-45 lead with 10:43 left. But the Huskies had one more run in them, and after DiNunno tallied two quick field goals, the game was tied at 53-53 with 6:50 remaining. Following a timeout, BGSU stormed back with four-consecutive points, and never relinquished the advantage.
Northern Illinois will continue its MAC-East swing next Thursday, when the Huskies travel to Buffalo, N.Y., to take on the first-place Bulls. Tip-off from Alumni Arena is set for 6 p.m. CST.