Huskies Fall to Host Northwestern in Season Opener, 77-55
Nov. 13, 2009
EVANSTON, Ill. - Northern Illinois' junior backcourt tandem of Xavier Silas and Darion "Jake" Anderson combined for 33 points and 15 rebounds, but the Huskies committed 17 turnovers and shot just 50 percent (13-26) from the free throw line in a 77-55 loss to host Northwestern at Welsh-Ryan Arena Friday night. The contest marked the season-opener for both teams.
Silas finished with a team-high 18 points to go along with seven rebounds in 26 minutes of action, and Anderson chipped in 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting, with eight rebounds. Northwestern placed four players in double figures, led by Jeremy Nash's 20 points, including a 10-for-12 effort from the free throw line.
The Huskies were whistled for 33 personal fouls in the game, with both Silas and Anderson fouling out of the contest. Junior center Sean Kowal was limited to just 18 minutes due to first-and second-half foul trouble, and Mike DiNunno also committed four personal fouls. The Wildcats attempted 48 free throws in the game, countered by NIU's 26 attempts from the charity stripe.
For the first eight minutes of the first half, NIU enjoyed an effective offensive rhythm, building as large as a six-point lead against Northwestern's man-to-man defense. But the Wildcats switched to a zone scheme out of the second media timeout (11:31), and turned a 16-14 deficit into a 32-21 lead with 4:14 remaining in the opening stanza.
The Huskies mustered just four field goals over the final 11 minutes of the first half, and went into the locker room trailing 39-25 at halftime. Silas and Anderson each scored 10 points to lead the offensive charge in the opening 20 minutes, and Northwestern's Luka Mirkovic led a balanced scoring effort with 12 points. Both teams shot 42.9 percent from the field.
Northern Illinois went on a 9-3 run to start the second stanza, trimming the Wildcat lead to 42-34 with 16:37 remaining. But Northwestern responded with an ensuing 11-3 spurt, and opened up a 53-35 advantage at the 13:06 mark. NIU cut the lead to 61-47 with 7:10 remaining, but could draw no closer.
The Huskies will play their second-consecutive road game versus a Big Ten Conference foe next Tuesday (Nov. 17), when NIU collides with Illinois for the first time in program history. The contest is set to tip-off at 7 p.m., and will be carried live on ESPN360.com.
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