Feb. 22, 2006
DeKalb, IL - An old-time basketball tenet is that the most important part of the basketball game is the last five minutes of the first half and the first five minutes of the second half.
That proved to be true on Saturday afternoon, as Kent State University went on a 23-12 run during that stretch as the visiting Golden Flashes picked up the 72-61 Mid-American Conference triumph over Northern Illinois University at the NIU Convocation Center.
KSU senior guard Jay Youngblood posted six of his game-high 27 points during that frame, while senior forward Kevin Warzynski (11 points) added six tallies during that stretch. Golden Flash reserve guard Omni Smith scored 14 points on the afternoon, 11 of which came in the second half.
"Kent State is a very good basketball team," NIU head coach Rob Judson said. "They're off to their best start in school-history and we knew it was going to be a challenge today, as just about every home game has been for us."
With the victory, KSU improves to 12-5 overall and remains undefeated in MAC action at 6-0. The Huskies drop to 9-6 on the campaign and 4-3 in conference play.
NIU junior center James Hughes came off the bench to score a team-high 15 points, while teammates Anthony Maestranzi (14 points) and Cory Sims (11 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists) each turned in solid efforts.
Following KSU's 23-12 run, the Golden Flashes built a 49-24 advantage with 15:18 left in the contest. NIU, however, would not go away quietly, as the Huskies answered with a 19-9 run behind eight points from Hughes to cut the Golden Flashes' advantage to five at 53-48 with 7:34 left in the contest.
KSU bounced back and dashed all hopes of a Huskie comeback with a 10-1 spurt, paced by eight points from Youngblood to put the game away for good.
"When we cut it to five, Kent answered with I believe three consecutive possessions to put the score back at double-digits," Judson said. "Youngblood today in the second half was very difficult to stop.
"We went to zone for a few possessions to try and eliminate his drive and they hit a couple of three's against the zone," Judson continued. "Kent just had an answer for everything we tried to do defensively."
The Golden Flashes were able to take advantage of NIU's 14 miscues on the afternoon, scoring 17 points off turnovers.
The Huskies return to action on Tuesday night, as they welcome the University of Toledo for a 7:05 p.m. (CST) tip-off at the NIU Convocation Center.
(For further information, please contact Matt Brendich) -NIU-