March 1, 2006
DeKalb, IL - When the shots are not falling, you have to get it done on the defensive end.
The Northern Illinois University men's basketball squad shot 33.3% from the field, but held Ohio University's Leon Williams, Sonny Troutman and Jeremy Fears to a combined 14 points as the Huskies upended the Bobcats, 64-59, at the NIU Convocation Center on Tuesday night.
With the victory, NIU improves to 9-5 overall and 4-2 in MAC play, while the Bobcats fall to 10-3 on the campaign and 4-1 in conference action.
Entering the contest, Williams, Troutman and Fears were averaging a total of 32.1 points-per-game. As a team, Ohio shot 31.9% (15-for-47) from the field and turned the ball over 14 times, leading to 16 Huskie points. NIU was solid on the glass, collecting 41 boards, its second highest output of the season.
"It was a tremendous defensive effort tonight," NIU head coach Rob Judson said. "Yesterday (in practice) we focused on defensive fundamentals and rebounding.
"It was really a slugfest, a test of wills."
NIU sophomore guard Ben Rand topped the Huskies with 19 points and eight rebounds, while teammate Todd Peterson chipped in 12 points and six boards.
"Rand's a good player," OU head coach Tim O'Shea said. "He's quicker than he looks and he got his stuff in the flow.
"I can see why he was recruited by the Big Ten," O'Shea continued. "It's the classic case of finding the right situation for himself."
OU senior guard Mychal Green tallied a game-high 25 points while reserve guard Whitney Davis added 12 points off the bench.
In the first half, the Bobcats jumped out to a 20-12 lead over NIU with eight minutes left in the opening stanza. The Huskies, however, went on a 15-7 run to close out the half and held OU to just one field goal for the rest of the period to even the score at 27 heading into the intermission.
Both teams went back and forth in the first four minutes of the second half, as Green's lay-up put the Bobcats ahead, 38-36. NIU, however, went on a 14-2 run paced by six points from junior center James Hughes
(7 points, 6 boards) as the Huskies took a 50-40 advantage over Ohio, a lead that they would not relinquish.
Ohio would draw to within three points, as a Fears free throw with 26 ticks left on the clock put the score at 60-57. Fears missed the back end of the pair of charity shots, as Peterson grabbed the board and was fouled by Troutman. The Pekin, IL native stepped to the line and drained both of his free throw attempts to secure the win for the Huskies.
"They're (NIU) tough on this court," O'Shea said. "We had a horrendous night shooting the ball, we had a bad, bad night, shooting the ball.
"Give credit to Northern," O'Shea continued. "They did the things they needed to do in a close game."
The Huskies will be back in action on Saturday afternoon as they host Kent State University for a MAC showdown at 1:05 p.m. (CST) at the NIU Convocation Center.
(For further information, please contact Matt Brendich) -NIU-