Kent State Edges NIU in Double-Overtime Thriller, 86-83

GO HUSKIES Mike DiNunno finished with a game-high 23 points.
Mike DiNunno finished with a game-high 23 points.

Feb. 10, 2009

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DEKALB, Ill. - The Northern Illinois men's basketball team (6-16, 2-8 MAC) battled preseason Mid-American Conference East Division favorite Kent State to two extra sessions, but ultimately dropped an 86-83, double-overtime decision to the visiting Golden Flashes at the Convocation Center Tuesday night.

Mike DiNunno strengthened his MAC Freshman of the Year candidacy by pouring in a game-high 23 points, including a half-court shot as time expired at the end of the first extra session, pushing the game to a second overtime.

Despite fouling out with 1:45 remaining in overtime, sophomore guard Darion "Jake" Anderson scored 16 points, including a 7-of-9 effort from the free throw line, to go along with a team-high nine rebounds. Kent State was led by Anthony Simpson's 16-point, 14-rebound double-double effort. In all, four Golden Flashes posted double-digits in scoring.

NIU held a 65-61 lead with 41 seconds remaining in regulation, but Kent State's Tyree Evans nailed a three-pointer from the right corner to give the Flashes life, and pull within one, 65-64. DiNunno was fouled on the ensuing possession, and drilled two free throws to push NIU's lead to 67-64 with 28 seconds left.

Defending MAC Player of the Year Al Fisher was fouled on the other end, and added one free throw to trim the lead to two, 67-65. On the ensuing possession, Anderson and NIU senior Sean Smith mishandled an out-of-bounds pass attempt, and turned the ball back over to Kent State with 14 seconds remaining.

After being fouled, the Golden Flashes' Mike McKee sank two shots from the charity stripe to tie the game at 67-67. DiNunno's potential game-tying jumper fell short, along with NIU's tip-in attempt.

Kent State built two-point leads of 69-67, 71-69 and 73-71 in the first overtime, before DiNunno single-handedly extended the contest. After Simpson drilled two free throws to give KSU a 74-71 lead with just under five seconds remaining in the first extra session, NIU head coach Ricardo Patton called timeout.

Coming out of the break, DiNunno caught the ball at three-quarter court, dribbled to just over the half-court line, and launched a running jumper, which swished as the buzzer sounded. Both teams headed to a second overtime session with the game tied, 74-74.

In the second overtime, NIU captured a 79-76 lead after a three-pointer by DiNunno, but KSU's Jordan Mincy answered with a three of his own on the other end to knot the score at 79-79 with 2:29 remaining in the second extra session.

The Golden Flashes then went up 81-79, but NIU's Lee Fisher tied the game at 81-81 with an offensive rebound and put-back following a missed layup by Sean Kowal. Kowal re-gained the lead (82-81) for the Huskies with 40 seconds remaining in overtime, splitting 1-of-2 free throw attempts.

Lee Fisher fouled Evans with 20 seconds remaining, and he hit both free throws to give the Golden Flashes an 83-82 lead that they would not relinquish. The Huskies will wrap up cross-divisional play Sunday, when Akron visits the Convocation Center beginning at 2 p.m.

- For the second-consecutive game, NIU head coach Ricardo Patton started three freshmen (Mike DiNunno, Michael Fakuade and Tyler Storm). Patton's starting five did not include any upperclassmen (three freshmen, and two sophomores).
- There were a combined 34 ties and lead changes in the game. Kent State's largest lead of five points came with 19:12 remaining, while NIU's largest advantage of four points was with 2:33 left in regulation.
- Northern Illinois held a 38-24 advantage in the paint, but was out-rebounded, 52-45.
- Kent State came into the game ranked eighth in the MAC with a 61.7 free throw percentage, but tossed in nearly 80 percent (35-of-44) of its attempts Tuesday.



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