Feb. 3, 2010
AKRON, Ohio - The Northern Illinois men's basketball team placed four players in double figures for just the second time this season, but allowed host Akron to shoot 50 percent from the field, falling in a 90-76 decision versus the Zips at James A. Rhodes Arena Wednesday night. The loss was the Huskies' fifth-straight in Mid-American Conference play.
NIU (8-13, 4-5 MAC) out-scored the Zips 47-44 in the second half, but could not overcome a 17-point halftime deficit. Both teams shot better than 50 percent in the second half, but NIU could draw no closer than 14 points. The Huskies held a 42-34 advantage in the paint, but allowed Akron's (16-7, 6-3) bench to score 40 points.
Junior guard Xavier Silas scored a team-high 15 points, and was joined in double figures by Darion "Jake" Anderson, Tony Nixon and Sean Kowal, who each scored 12 points. Akron was led by Darryl Roberts, who scored a game-high 18 points to lead a foursome in double figures.
"The name of the game is obviously making shots, and we struggled to do that effectively at all in the first half," said NIU head coach Ricardo Patton. "Our guys were playing hard, but when those shots don't fall, it starts to put you back on your heels defensively.
"One of the things we need to better understand is what worked for us in January may not work going forward, because every team in our league has watched a lot of film, and we're all making adjustments. We have to continue to elevate our play in order to have a chance to be one of the better teams in this league."
Despite shooting just 31.3 percent in the first half, the Huskies were able to stay in striking distance for the first 13 minutes of the first half. After falling behind 21-14, NIU went on a 5-2 run, pulling within four, 23-19, with 6:41 remaining in the opening stanza. But the Huskies were held scoreless for the ensuing three minutes, and Akron opened up a 36-23 with 3:20 left after a three-pointer by Roberts.
The Zips ended the frame on a 10-6 flurry, and opened a 17-point lead (46-29) heading into the locker room at halftime. Roberts put an exclamation point on the lead, hitting a high-arcing jumper as time expired. Akron ended the half shooting 44.1 percent from the field, led by Roberts' 10 points, and held a 24-19 advantage on the boards. Michael Fakuade
led NIU with eight points, but was limited to just nine minutes due to his two personal fouls.
NIU pulled within 56-42, and 58-44, in the opening six minutes of the second half, but could not chip any further into Akron's lead. The Zips opened up a game-high 27-point lead (86-59) with 5:02 remaining, before the Huskies made a late charge.
Over the final 4:44, NIU out-scored the Zips, 17-4. Anderson had three field goals during the stretch, and Tyler Storm chipped in with five quick points. Nixon scored on a transition layup with 2:21 remaining, capping off his sixth field goal of the contest.
Northern Illinois will return home Saturday to host MAC-East foe Miami (Ohio) beginning at 3 p.m.