Feb. 28, 2006
Chicago, IL - With a 54-53 lead and 15 seconds left, the Northern Illinois University men's hoops team knew they had to buckle down and play some tough defense in order to secure the victory against the University of Illinois at Chicago.
The Huskies did just that, forcing the UIC's Justin Bowen into a fadeaway, contested 15-foot jumper that caromed off the rim with time draining.
Unfortunately for the Huskies, UIC senior forward Elliott Poole picked up the offensive rebound with three ticks left on the clock giving the Flames the 55-54 non-conference victory over NIU, snapping their four-game winning streak, at the UIC Pavilion on Saturday afternoon.
"We knew heading into the game that rebounding against UIC was going to be key," NIU head coach Rob Judson said. "As it turned out the rebounds were 39-38, UIC has one more than us, and that one was the key one.
"You never know how that ball is going to bounce, and it bounced right to Elliott Poole, who's big enough and strong enough on that weakside to take it up and finish."
Bowen scored all 12 of his points in the second half, while sophomore forward Othyus Jeffers posted a double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds (7 offensive) and freshman point guard Josh Mayo chipped in 10 points and six assists.
With the victory, UIC improves to 6-4 on the season, while the visiting Huskies fall to 4-2 overall.
NIU junior guard Mike McKinney topped the Huskies with a season-best 17 points, while junior center James Hughes (12 points) and senior guard Anthony Maestranzi (10 points) each scored in double-figures.
The game was a see-saw affair from the get-go as the contest featured a total of 23 lead changes, with the Flames taking the biggest lead of the game at 39-34 with 12:13 left in the contest.
The Huskies stormed back with a 6-0 run behind four-points from McKinney to give NIU the 40-39 advantage at the 8:41 mark. UIC answered immediately with a 11-6 spurt, as five different players scored, highlighted by a Mayo trey, giving the Flames the 50-46 lead with 3:02 left in the contest.
Maestranzi, who had missed his previous five three-point attempts, knocked down his next two treys as the Huskies took a 52-51 lead over UIC with 1:02 remaining.
UIC answered almost instantaneously, as Bowen knocked down a jumper with 34 ticks remaining, pushing the Flames ahead, 53-52.
Judson called a timeout, and drew a play up for McKinney, who promptly drove to the basket for a bucket to give the Huskies the 54-53 advantage with 15 seconds left.
UIC head coach Jimmy Collins called a time-out and set a play for Bowen. Bowen was not successful, but Poole was there to pick him up with the bucket and the victory at the buzzer.
"I like the way our guys fought and responded to some adversity and different setbacks during the game," Judson said. "We hung together as a team, made some big shots down the stretch when we needed to, and we were just one possession away.
"It was a really tough, hard fought, in the trenches type of college basketball game tonight."
NIU will be back in action on Tuesday night, as they welcome Kansas State University to the Convocation Center for a 7:05 p.m. tip-off. The game will be televised live on Fox Sports Net.
For more information please contact Matt Brendich ##NIU##