Anderson, Huskies Outlast Akron, 83-79
Feb. 15, 2009
DEKALB, Ill. - Sophomore guard Darion "Jake" Anderson recorded his fourth-career double-double, pouring in a game-high 24 points to go along with a season-high 10 rebounds, and lifted the Northern Illinois men's basketball team (7-16, 3-8 MAC) to a wire-to-wire 83-79 win over visiting Akron Sunday afternoon at the Convocation Center.
The win snapped a six-game losing skid for the Huskies, and ended the Zips' seven-game winning streak. Sophomore center Sean Kowal, senior Sean Smith and freshman Tyler Storm all scored 13 points to join Anderson in double-figures, marking the fourth time this season four NIU players have tallied double-digit scoring outputs. Akron was led by Brett McKnight's 24 points and 10 rebounds.
NIU jumped out to a 12-2 lead out of the gate, capitalizing on Akron's 0-for-8 start from the field. The Huskies eventually built their largest lead of 19 points (42-23) with 2:32 remaining in the opening stanza. But the Zips went on a 9-4 spree to end the half, and NIU took a 46-34 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Anderson finished the first half with 14 points and five rebounds. The Huskies owned a 23-13 advantage on the boards at intermission, and shot 55.6 percent (15-of-27) from the field, while holding the Zips to a 12-of-33 (34.4 percent) shooting effort.
Storm hit two free throws with 17:49 remaining in the second stanza, pushing the Huskies' lead back to a game-high 19 points, 53-34. But Akron answered with a commanding 16-0 run, trimming NIU's advantage to just one possession (53-50) with 14:13 left. Brett McKnight had six quick points in the spurt.
Smith countered with back-to-back free throw makes, and drilled a transition three-pointer with 12:58 remaining to push NIU's lead back to eight, 58-50. Anderson's sixth field goal with 10:22 left gave NIU a 61-52 advantage.
But Akron fought back again, cutting the lead to 67-64 with 5:52 remaining after a layup by All-MAC East preseason selection Nate Linhart. But Smith capped off a 7-1 run by converting two free throws, and gave the Huskies a 74-65 lead with just 3:50 left.
The Zips' final run proved to be the most significant. Four players converted field goals in the ensuing 2:08, and Brett McKnight's off-balance jumper tied the game at 75-75 with 1:42 remaining. It was the first time in the entire contest that Akron had knotted the score. But Anderson sealed the win by drilling six-straight free throws in the final 48 seconds.
The Huskies will jump back into MAC-West play Wednesday, when NIU visits Central Michigan in Mt. Pleasant, Mich. Tip-off from Rose Arena is set for 6 p.m. CST.
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