Nov. 10, 2007
UMass 102, Northern Illinois 87 in PDF Format
Cedar Falls, Iowa - It all seemed to click for the Northern Illinois men's basketball team as the Huskies outscored Massachusetts 24-6 over the final five minutes of Saturday's BTI Tip-Off Tourney contest.
Unfortunately for the Huskies, the Minutemen held control of the game for the previous 35 minutes, knocking down 14 three-pointers and scoring 31 points off NIU turnovers on their way to the 102-87 non-conference triumph at the McLeod Center.
"I was really pleased with our guys' effort," NIU head men's basketball coach Ricardo Patton said. "I think we discovered something about ourselves in terms of being aggressive.
"We could have folded our tents and we didn't," Patton continued. "The resiliency speaks volumes for the hearts of the young men.
"We knew it was going to be a tough beginning, but as long as we continue to fight, we'll get better in whatever it is we do."
UMass guard Gary Forbes (3 treys) topped the Minutemen with 22 points, followed by 20 points from Ricky Harris (2 treys) and 16 points from Etienne Brower (2 treys).
As a team, UMass shot 57.4% (31-for-54) from the field and 53.8% (14-for-26) from three-point range. The Minutemen forced 28 Huskie turnovers on the evening and turned those miscues into 31 points.
NIU senior guard Ryan Paradise (Naperville, Ill. / Central) topped the Huskies with 18 points, including four three-pointers. Senior forward Egan Grafel (Oberlin, Kan. / Decatur Community / Cloud County C.C.) collected a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds, both career-highs.
NIU was solid on the boards as they out-rebounded UMass, 40-32 and 20-8 on the offensive glass.
"Looking back at yesterday's game, we talked to our team tonight in getting better tonight in one area," Patton said. "If we could improve in one area, we thought it had to be rebounding.
"We had 20 offensive boards against their eight," Patton continued. "That's how you're supposed to play the game because that speaks directly towards your aggressiveness."
NIU is back in action on Sunday afternoon, as they conclude the BTI Tip-Off Tourney against Cal-Poly for a 2 p.m. (CST) jump ball.