Feb. 22, 2006
Ypsilanti, MI - Playing in a Mid-American Conference men's basketball contest on the road is never an easy task.
That proved to be true for the first 30 minutes of Sunday's tilt between Northern Illinois University and Eastern Michigan University, as the host Eagles held a one-point lead over the Huskies with 10:58 left in their showdown on Sunday (Jan. 29) afternoon.
The Huskies, however, kicked it into high gear and outscored EMU, 23-10, over the final 10:23 and held the Eagles to one basket over the final 5:23 as NIU earned the 67-55 MAC triumph over Eastern Michigan at the Convocation Center. In the last two games, NIU has surrendered just one field goal in the last two games over the last five minutes of the second half.
"We knew coming into this game that it would be a difficult and hard fought 40 minutes," NIU head coach Rob Judson said. "Our defense carried the way for us today.
"At the beginning of the year, our team knew that in the MAC you need some stops that win basketball games," Judson continued. "It's good to see that our team can focus and concentrate on the stops when you come down the stretch for basketball games."
NIU junior center James Hughes went 7-for-12 from the field to finish with a game-high 14 points, while adding a season-high eight rebounds and five blocks. Huskie junior swingman Mike McKinney tallied 13 points on 5-for-5 shooting, while senior point guard Anthony Maestranzi scored all 12 of his points in the second half. Seniors Todd Peterson (7 rebounds) and Cory Sims each scored nine points for the Huskies.
With the victory, NIU improves to 11-7 overall and 6-4 in MAC play, while the Eagles fall to 3-14 on the campaign and remain winless in conference action at 0-9.
EMU senior forward John Bowler posted 17 points and seven rebounds, while teammate Danny McElhinny connected for 13 points, including three treys, off of the bench.
The opening 30 minutes of the contest was a see-saw affair that featured eight lead changes and six ties, as EMU held a 45-44 advantage with 10:58 remaining. The Huskies, however, bounced back and went on a 23-10 run, led by eight points from McKinney to help put away the Eagles for good.
For the game, NIU shot 50.0% (25-for-50), marking the 10th time this season that the Huskies have reached the 50.0% plateau. EMU connected at a 39.9% (21-for-54) clip, while shooting 36.4% (8-for-22) in the second half.
The Huskies are back in action on Wednesday (Feb. 1) night, as they host Ball State University for a 7:05 p.m. (CST) tip-off at the NIU Convocation Center.
(For further information, please contact Matt Brendich) -NIU-