Feb. 10, 2010
BOWLING GREEN, Ohio - Junior center Sean Kowal (18 points) and junior guard Michael Patton (17) combined for 35 points off the bench, and the Huskies (8-15, 4-7 MAC) raced out to an 11-point halftime lead, but Bowling Green's (12-11, 5-6) Scott Thomas scored 26 points on nine field goals, leading the Falcons to a 73-69 win over the visiting Northern Illinois men's basketball team at Anderson Arena Wednesday night.
The Huskies' bench totaled 48 points, but leading scorers Xavier Silas and Darion "Jake" Anderson combined to shoot just 6-for-24, and NIU committed 10 second-half turnovers. Bowling Green overcame 19 turnovers, and held a 36-31 advantage on the boards.
Thomas' 26 points led all scorers, and he was joined in double figures by sophomore guard Dee Brown (14 points) and senior forward Otis Polk, who tallied a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
"This game was lost in the second half with our turnovers," said NIU head coach Ricardo Patton. "We went into the locker room at halftime with only five turnovers, and we finished with 15. On the flipside of that, Bowling Green had 14 turnovers at halftime, and ended the game with 19. That's the story of the game as I see it; Bowling Green finished the game and we let it slip away.
"We knew they (Bowling Green) would come out better (in the second half). I thought we withstood that defensively for much of the second half, but all 10 of our turnovers led to points for them. That's not a recipe for success on the road."
Despite Silas going scoreless in the opening 20 minutes, NIU was able to open up a 38-27 lead heading into the locker room at halftime, thanks in large part to a 51.7 percent effort from the field. The Falcons jumped out to the early 5-0 lead, capitalizing on two offensive rebounds, forcing the Huskies into an early timeout.
After falling behind 11-4 at the first media timeout (14:26), NIU responded with a 6-0 spurt, and pulled within 11-10 after a layup by Kowal. Bowling Green built a 25-19 lead with 4:16 remaining after a three by Brown, but Michael Patton
answered with his fourth trey on the ensuing possession, keeping the Huskies within one possession, 25-22.
From there, Northern Illinois made its convincing run to end the half. The Huskies scored four quick points, two each by Kowal and Michael Patton, to take their first lead (26-25) with 2:48 remaining in the opening stanza. After a BGSU timeout, NIU continued to pour it on, finishing the half on a 12-2 run - Tony Nixon had five points in the stretch, while Mike DiNunno, Najul Ervin and Kowal each added field goals. The Falcons dominated the boards in the opening half, 21-9, but NIU scored 13 points off BGSU's 14 turnovers.
Bowling Green quickly chipped into the deficit to start the second half, forcing NIU into a timeout leading 44-42 with 15:56 remaining. The Falcons' 15-6 run was fueled by Thomas providing eight points on four field goals. NIU extended its lead back to four points (49-45) at the second media timeout (11:45), capped off by Silas' first field goal.
A three-pointer by Brown gave the Falcons a 50-49 lead with 10:42 left, but Michael Patton answered with an ensuing three, giving NIU a 52-50 advantage with 10:31 remaining. With 8:22 remaining, Brown drove and scored, giving the Falcons a 56-54 lead. Anderson then converted a layup with 7:23 left that gave NIU a one-point advantage, 58-57.
After falling behind by three (62-59) with just over five minutes remaining, the Huskies answered with five-straight points, capped off by a transition layup by Nixon, to take a 63-62 lead with 3:46 remaining. Brown again countered, converting a layup with 2:42 remaining to give the Falcons a 64-63 lead.
Silas' ensuing two free throws pushed NIU's advantage to one, 65-64, with 1:34 remaining. But the Huskies never led again, and the Falcons finished the game on a 9-5 run, including six free throws.
Northern Illinois will open the second-round of Mid-American Conference West Division play Saturday, when the Huskies host Ball State at the Convocation Center beginning at 3 p.m. CST. The Huskies defeated the Cardinals in Muncie, Ind., 62-48, on Jan. 9.