March 4, 2006
Kalamazoo, MI - On a day where they set the school-record for games played, Northern Illinois University seniors Anthony Maestranzi and Todd Peterson played as if it were their last contest in Huskie uniforms as the duo combined for 44 points to lift NIU to the 74-59 Mid-American Conference victory over Western Michigan University to claim their first-ever MAC West Division title at WMU's University Arena on Saturday (Mar. 4) afternoon.
Peterson posted a team-season high 24 points (3-for-3 treys) and a career-high 15 rebounds for his first career double-double. The Pekin, IL, native has scored at least 20 points in his last three contests and four out of the last five games. Classmate Anthony Maestranzi collected a career-high 20 points, including four three-pointers. Both combined to shoot 70.0% (7-for-10) from beyond the arc. As a team, NIU shot 47.6% (10-for-21) from three-point range.
Maestranzi and Peterson broke the previous school-record of 115 games played, set by both Allen Rayhorn (1978-82) and Donnell Thomas (1987-91).
"The seniors that we have on our ballclub, really rose to the occasion," NIU head coach Rob Judson said. "They put their hearts out there today and I'm really proud of them and everybody else that rode with them.
"This win is a testament to our team's attitude throughout the season," Judson continued. "It's an historic win for Northern Illinois."
With the victory, NIU improves to 17-10 overall and 12-6 in MAC play, while the Broncos fall to 13-16 on the campaign and 10-8 in conference action. The 12 MAC wins for NIU marks the most by the Huskies since the 1990-91 campaign when they went 14-2 in Midwestern Collegiate Conference play on their way to a berth in the NCAA Tournament. The win also snapped a 22-year drought in Kalamazoo, dating back to an 83-74 NIU win over the Broncos on February 25, 1984.
The Huskies now receive the No. 2 seed in the upcoming MAC Tournament at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, OH. They await the winner of the No. 7/No. 10 contest for an 11 a.m. (CST) tip-off on Thursday (Mar. 9).
WMU sophomore center Joe Reitz led the Broncos with 14 points and six rebounds, while teammate Andrew Hershberger added 12 points in the defeat.
Peterson's 15 rebounds helped NIU to a 40-27 advantage on the boards, including 17 rebounds on the offensive glass. As a team, NIU finished with 18 second-chance points.
(For further information, please contact Matt Brendich) -NIU-