Nov. 6, 2009
DEKALB, Ill. - Junior guard Xavier Silas' 28 points on 10-of-18 shooting led six Huskie players in double figures, lifting the Northern Illinois men's basketball team to a dominating 120-70 win over visiting Marygrove College (Mich.) in the Huskies' exhibition finale at the Convocation Center Friday night.
The Huskies shook off a slow start to shoot 57.7 percent (41-of-71) from the field, crashed the boards for a convincing 48-31 rebounding advantage and dished out 26 assists to 17 turnovers, building as large as a 52-point lead in the win. Mike DiNunno (15 points), Sean Kowal (15), Lee Fisher (14), Antone Christian (13) and Bryan Hall (12) all joined Silas with double-digits in the scoring column. DiNunno and Darion "Jake" Anderson combined for 14 assists against just three turnovers to set the offensive pace.
"Our guys came out pretty confident, but we still had to play the game, and they (Marygrove) took it to us a little bit there early in the game," said NIU head coach Ricardo Patton. "I was really pleased with how we turned that early deficit around, and played well offensively throughout the rest of the game.
"I was satisfied with how the offense flowed, but we still have some things to focus on defensively. Most coaches are going to echo that sentiment this time of year, unless you have a veteran-laden team. We'll continue to work on some of those things this upcoming week in practice."
Marygrove came out firing early in the first half, forcing Patton into a timeout just over two minutes into the game, with the Huskies trailing 8-0. NIU answered with an 18-8 run, and took an 18-16 lead with 12:31 remaining in the first half - the Huskies never trailed again. NIU's first double-digit advantage came with 9:19 left in the opening stanza after a three-point field goal by Christian, who played 12 minutes off the bench.
The Huskies led by as many as 21 points down the stretch of the first half, outscoring the Spartans 28-19 over the final 9:08. Silas (13 points), DiNunno (10) and Fisher (10) combined for 33 points in the opening stanza, as NIU took a 57-39 lead into the locker room at intermission.
The Huskies extended their lead to 31 points (76-45) under five minutes into the second half (15:32) after Darion "Jake" Anderson's second field goal. The advantage reached 40 points (107-67) with 4:22 remaining, after Christian nailed his second three-pointer. NIU finished the game on a convincing 26-10 run over the final 7:03, with seven different players converting field goals in the flurry.
The Huskies will open the 2009-10 regular season next Friday (Nov. 13) versus host Northwestern in Evanston, Ill. Tip-off from Welsh-Ryan Arena is set for 7 p.m., and the game will be televised on BigTenNetwork.com.
"We're looking forward to opening the season against a very good Northwestern team," added Patton. "Our guys want to compete at the highest level, and we're giving them that chance right out of the gate next week. If we can shoot the ball well, I think it will be a great basketball game."