March 4, 2010
Official box score
Updated 2010 MAC Tournament Bracket (as of March 4)
DEKALB, Ill. - Junior guard Xavier Silas tipped-in a missed field goal by Darion "Jake" Anderson with 1.3 seconds remaining, lifting the Northern Illinois men's basketball team to a come-from-behind, 60-58 win over visiting Toledo in the Mid-American Conference regular season finale for both teams at the Convocation Center Thursday night.
After Anderson stole the ball from Toledo's Malcolm Griffin on the would-be last shot, he attacked the basket driving left, but missed the altered lay-up. Silas, the trailer, tipped in the miss with 1.3 seconds left, giving NIU the go-ahead score and 60-58 lead, its first since the 11:38 mark of the second half. Toledo freshman Jake Barnett had a look from deep three-point range to win the game, but his shot fell short as time expired.
Silas scored a game-high 24 points, and he was joined in double figures by Sean Kowal, who scored 12 points and pulled down a team-high eight rebounds. Sophomore forward Tyler Storm scored a season-best nine points on two first half three-pointers. Toledo was led by Griffin's 17 points, leading a threesome in double figures, including Justin Anyijong's 14-point, 10-rebound double-double output.
The Huskies out-rebounded the Rockets 40-27, and their bench recorded a 27-5 scoring advantage. Junior guard Jeremy Landers was key in the comeback, drawing a charge during a full-court pressure situation with 1:14 remaining, followed by a three-pointer with 1:06 left that trimmed the deficit to just one, 58-57.
"It was great to see our defense show up down the stretch," said NIU head coach Ricardo Patton. "We got some terrific stops, and some steals that we converted to easy baskets. We've been on Xavier all year to crash the offensive boards, and he came up with one today that was huge.
"I thought Jeremy Landers' defense was huge for us (tonight). You have to have someone you can insert into the game to play the level of defense Jeremy can play. He's an unselfish guy, and was tremendous on the defensive end at the end of the game."
"What you learn from winning is how to win. Sometimes you learn how to grind out a win in the last moment. We are a team that has to grind out wins."
Toledo jumped out to the early 8-2 lead just 3:30 in the game, forcing Patton into his first timeout. The Huskies responded with a 9-2 spurt to pull within 12-11 with 11:51 remaining - Storm's two three-pointers came during the spree.
The Huskies claimed their first lead, 20-18, with 6:28 remaining after a lay-up by Silas. After Toledo trimmed NIU's lead to just one (26-25) at the 2:40 mark, Silas scored the final four points of the opening stanza to help the Huskies take a 30-25 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The Rockets went on a 7-3 run to open the second half, and pulled within 33-32 at the first media timeout (15:39). Toledo claimed its first advantage of the second frame (34-33) with 12:59 left after a driving jumper by Anyijong.
The Rockets' lead was extended to 50-43 with 5:44 remaining, after a field goal by Griffin. But NIU answered with 10 of the last 14 points, trimming the deficit to 54-53 at the 2:34 mark. Toledo's Larry Bastfield and Griffin scored on each of the ensuing two possessions to help the Rockets build a 58-54 lead with 1:40 remaining. After Anderson was called for an offensive foul, Landers reversed the call, drawing a charge on Griffin in the backcourt.
In the next offensive possession, Landers received a pass on the wing, faked his shot to draw the defender, and then pulled up for three, pulling NIU within 58-57 with 1:06 remaining. After forcing another turnover, Kowal split one-of-two free throws on the other end, to tie the game at 58-58. Toledo then set up for the last shot, but Anderson forced Griffin to turn the ball over one more time, leading to the run-out with less than three seconds remaining. Silas' game-winning tip came with 1.3 seconds remaining.
Northern Illinois will represent the No. 11 seed in the upcoming Mid-American Conference Tournament. The Huskies will take on host Eastern Michigan at the Convocation Center in Ypsilanti, Mich., Sunday, beginning at 1 p.m. CST, in the first-round. The Huskies and Eagles split the regular season series, with each team winning on their respective home court.