Feb. 21, 2009
Final Box Score in PDF Format
Postgame Quotes in PDF Format
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. - Playing just over 100 miles from his hometown of St. Louis, sophomore center Sean Kowal recorded his second double-double of the season with 21 points and a career-high 13 rebounds, leading the Northern Illinois men's basketball team (8-17) to a convincing 97-73 win over host Southeast Missouri at the Show Me Center Saturday night.
The victory gave the Huskies their first-ever win in the ESPNU BracketBuster series. NIU's 97 points marked a season-high mark in scoring, and the Huskies' 13 three-point field goals were also a season-best effort. The Huskies also set season-highs in rebounds (49), steals (15) and field goal attempts (77).
Kowal's 21 points led a foursome of Huskies scoring in double figures, followed by Darion "Jake" Anderson (18), Mike DiNunno (16) and Sean Smith (11). SEMO was led by Kenard Moore's 36 points on 12-of-22 shooting.
NIU came out firing, connecting on 8-of its first 11 field goal attempts to claim a 19-4 lead at the first media timeout (15:23). Kowal and DiNunno combined for the Huskies' first 19 points, including three quick three-pointers from DiNunno.
SEMO stormed back to cut the lead to four (25-21) with 9:09 remaining in the first half, but the Huskies re-gained the double-digit advantage (37-25) with 4:56 left in the stanza following one of Anderson's five threes.
NIU's lead reached 20 points (51-31) with 49 seconds remaining in the first half, after Michael Fakuade converted a conventional three-point play, following one of the Huskies' 22 offensive rebounds. The Huskies entered the locker room at halftime with a 51-31 lead. Kowal and DiNunno each scored 12 first half points.
NIU continued its charge in the early stages of the second half, recording a game-high 34-point lead (76-42) with 13:12 remaining. SEMO chipped away at the lead, eventually pulling within 19 points twice in the final 2:35.
But NIU freshman Justin Peaster pushed the lead back to 23 points, and vaulted the Huskies to their season-high scoring mark with a three-pointer from the corner with just 48 seconds remaining. It was his first-career field goal.
The Huskies will jump back into Mid-American Conference-West Division play Wednesday, when divisional co-leader Western Michigan visits the Convocation Center beginning at 7 p.m. The Huskies will be looking to salvage a regular season split, after WMU recorded a 71-52 win over NIU at University Arena in Kalamazoo, Mich., on Jan. 17.