NIU Men's Basketball Drops Season Opener Against Missouri State, 87-51



Feb. 28, 2006

Springfield, MO - The Northern Illinois University men's basketball squad ran into an offensive buzzsaw in their season opener as the Missouri State University Bears shot a torrid 58.2% (32-for-55) from the field and 50.0% (7-for-14) from three-point land to pick up the 87-51 non-conference victory over the Huskies at the Hammons Student Center on Saturday evening.

Missouri State junior guard Blake Ahearn topped the Bears with 19 points and three treys on the evening, followed by 14 points from junior guard Tyler Chaney, 11 points from senior guard Deke Thompson and a near double-double from junior forward Nathan Bilyeu (9 points, 13 rebounds).

The Bears were equally as impressive on the defensive end, holding the Huskies to 30.0% (18-for-60) shooting on the evening. NIU's guards were held to 22 points, while connecting on just 20.0% (7-for-35) of their shots from the field.

"We have to give credit to Missouri State for playing a very good basketball game tonight," NIU head coach Rob Judson said. "We didn't shoot the ball well tonight and they did.

"During the course of a season there will be occasions where the ball isn't falling," Judson continued. "When that happens, you have to knuckle down and play some defense.

"Our misses allowed them to create some easy transition buckets."

With the victory, Missouri State improves to 1-0 on the season, while the Huskies fall to 0-1 on the year.

NIU senior forward Todd Peterson (Pekin) led the Huskies with 10 points, including a pair of three-pointers. Peterson also moved to within four free-throws of breaking the record of 32 consecutive charity shots, set by Willie Hanson in 1967.

In the first half, NIU drained three of its first four shots, but were only able to connect on six of its next 21 field-goal attempts, as the Bears took a 36-26 advantage into the intermission. Ahearn led the charge for Missouri State in the first half, scoring 10 points, including a pair of three-pointers.



The Huskies went on a 5-2 run in the opening minutes of the second half and cut the lead to 40-31, following a Peterson jumper at the 17:17 mark.

The Bears, however, would go on a 22-9 run, with five points apiece from Ahearn and Chaney, over a span of close to six minutes to put the game out of reach for the Huskies.

The Huskies will open their home campaign on November 26th, as they will welcome Aurora University for a 4:05 p.m. (CST) tip-off at the NIU Convocation Center.

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

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