Feb. 1, 2010
KENT, Ohio - Junior guard Darion "Jake" Anderson (12 points) was the lone Huskie in double figures, and the Northern Illinois men's basketball team (8-12, 4-4 MAC) shot a season-low 29.5 percent from the field, falling in a convincing 76-46 defeat versus host Kent State (15-7, 6-2 MAC) at the Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center Monday night.
The Huskies trailed by just nine (38-29) at halftime, but the Golden Flashes shot 50 percent in the second frame, and used a 9-0 run mid-way through the half to pull away. Kent State received 31 points from its bench, and scored 19 points off second-chance opportunities, despite the Huskies holding a 45-42 rebounding advantage in the game.
Sophomore forward Lee Fisher ripped down a career-high 12 rebounds to go along with seven points. Junior guard Xavier Silas, the Mid-American Conference's leading scorer coming into the contest, was limited to a season-low seven points on 1-of-9 shooting.
Kent State was led by Justin Greene, who scored a game-high 18 points, and led a foursome of Golden Flashes scoring in double figures.
"Coming into tonight's game, I thought Buffalo was the most talented and battle-tested team in our league; now, I would have to give that nod to Kent State," said NIU head coach Ricardo Patton. "I thought they were tremendous tonight. The biggest difference was the physicality of the game, and Kent State used it to its advantage.
"Xavier Silas definitely has the best `basketball body' on our team, and I thought he looked small out there compared to most of Kent State's players. They were stronger and more physical than we were."
"We actually had good looks at the basket, particularly from three, but they weren't falling," Patton added. "We couldn't get enough going in the paint or around the basket, and in a physical game, that's going to hurt you."
The Huskies led only once, at 2-0, but stayed within striking distance for the majority of the first half. After falling behind 9-4, NIU cut the deficit to 14-12, and eventually 20-18, with 9:31 remaining in the opening stanza. Kent State answered with a 6-0 run, and took a 26-18 lead after a tip-in by Greene at the 6:44 mark.
NIU pulled within five (33-28) with under two minutes remaining in the first half after a three-pointer by Tony Nixon. But the Golden Flashes finished the frame on a 5-0 run, including a layup by Greene as time expired, following an offensive rebound. KSU took a 38-29 lead into the locker room at halftime.
NIU scored just four points in the opening 7:50 of the second half, and Kent State took advantage, racing out to a 43-33 lead that eventually grew to 54-33 with 12:37 remaining. The Golden Flashes' largest lead of 31 points came with just under two minutes remaining.
Overall, in the second half, Kent State out-scored NIU 16-6 in the paint, saw its bench rack up 18 points to NIU's eight, and held the Huskies to just a 21.4 percent output from the floor. NIU committed 15 second half turnovers, and was out-scored, 38-17.
Northern Illinois will take on host Akron on Wednesday at James A. Rhodes Arena beginning at 6 p.m. The Zips fell in a 62-59 decision versus visiting Eastern Michigan Monday night.