NIU Men's Hoops Rallies For 75-74 MAC Victory Over Bowling Green State



Feb. 22, 2006

Bowling Green, OH - Right place, right time.

Northern Illinois University junior swingman Mike McKinney's tip-in off of a Cory Sims' miss with 3.6 seconds left in regulation, proved to be the game-winner as the Huskies, thanks in part to a stingy defensive effort in the second half, rallied for the 75-74 Mid-American Conference victory over Bowling Green State University at Anderson Arena on Wednesday night.

"The kids really hung in there tonight and showed some great resiliency," NIU head coach Rob Judson said. "Our second-half defense was absolutely outstanding, we just bent our knees and got back to fundamental defense.

"This is just a big team victory."

McKinney finished with nine points and six assists, while Sims added 12 points and a game-high seven assists in the victory. NIU freshman forward Craig Reichel topped the Huskies in scoring with a career-high 20 points (4 three-pointers), while senior forward Todd Peterson posted 12 points off of the bench. The duo of Reichel and Peterson helped the NIU bench to a 48-point effort for the second-straight game.

With the victory, NIU improved to 8-4 overall and 3-1 in MAC play, while the host Falcons dropped to 5-8 on the campaign and 1-2 in conference action. This game marks the seventh-straight game that a NIU game has either gone to overtime or had been decided by two points or less.

BGSU junior guard Martin Samarco posted a game-high 25 points, followed by junior center Matt Lefeld (19 points) and senior guard Steven Wright (12 points).

Samarco proved to be the catalyst for the Falcons in the first half, as the Ypsilanti, MI, native posted 17 points, including four treys, as BGSU shot 72.7% (16-for-22) from the field on their way to a 50-39 lead over the Huskies heading into the intermission.



The Huskies, however, buckled down and held BGSU to just 24 points in the second stanza on 38.9% (7-for-18 shooting).

BGSU extended their halftime lead to 62-47 with 13:10 left in the game, following a Wright three-pointer. The Huskies, however, went on a 21-5 run over the next 7:25, capped off by a Sims' trey that bounced off the heel of the rim and back through to give NIU their first lead of the game at 68-67 with 5:35 left in the game. Sims scored five points during that run, while Reichel chipped in seven.

The Falcons briefly took a 69-68 lead following a Perrick Robinson lay-up, but NIU answered with a 5-0 run, with Peterson draining a three-pointer with 2:34 remaining, giving the Huskies the 73-69 advantage.

BGSU would not go away quietly, as Samarco scored the next five points, including a trey with 1:46 left to push the Falcons ahead, 74-73.

Both teams traded scoreless possessions over the next 1:15, setting the stage for McKinney's heroics. Following a time out by the Huskies, Sims found the ball in his hands with the clock draining. The Livingston, AL, native drove to the basket, but was unable to convert, but McKinney was there to pick up his teammate with the game-winning tip.

"We didn't want to go too early," Judson said. "We wanted to open the floor and let Cory drive, penetrate and kick to an open teammate if need be.

"We got the shot and James (Hughes) and Mike (McKinney) needed to get to the offensive boards," Judson continued. "Fortunately, we came away with a win."

NIU will be back in action on Saturday evening, as the Huskies continue their swing through Ohio and take on Akron for a 6 p.m. (CST) tip-off at the James A. Rhodes Arena.

(For further information, please contact Matt Brendich) - NIU -

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