Tennessee State Edges Huskies, 75-73

GO HUSKIES Sean Smith had a season-high eight points.
GO HUSKIES
Sean Smith had a season-high eight points.
GO HUSKIES

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Final Stats

- The Northern Illinois men's basketball team held a 65-57 lead with 6:07 remaining, but host Tennessee State (1-2) finished the game on an 18-10 run, securing its first win of the season, 75-73, over the Huskies (2-2) at the Gentry Center Friday night. NIU was held without a field goal for the final two minutes of the game.

Freshman Mike DiNunno scored a team-high 15 points, and was the Huskies' leading scorer for the fourth-consecutive game. He was joined in double-figures by sophomore guard Darion "Jake" Anderson, who chipped in 12 points. The duo was a combined 8-for-34 from the field. Tennessee State was paced by Jerrell Houston's 28 points (10-of-12) and 11 rebounds. Gerald Robinson (18 points) and Parker Smith (14) each tallied double-digit scoring outputs along with Houston.

The Huskies shot a season-low 37.3 percent (25-of-67) from the field, were out-rebounded (40-36) for the first time this season, and attempted 12 less free throws (17-of-21) than the Tigers (28-of-33). There were a combined 55 personal fouls charged in the game. The Huskies' bench held a decisive 36-5 advantage.

Tennessee State jumped out to a 10-3 lead in the early going, with Houston providing two of the field goals. The Huskies charged back and knotted the score at 15-15 after DiNunno's second field goal. After a defensive stop, freshman Tyler Storm scored on the ensuing possession, giving the Huskies their first lead, 17-15.

There were a combined 12 ties and lead changes in the final 10 minutes of the first-half, as the Tigers held a one-point (40-39) lead heading into the locker room at halftime. DiNunno gave the Huskies momentum at the break, scoring as time expired to cut the lead from three points (40-37) to just one (40-39). He finished the opening stanza with 13 points, and Houston countered with 18.

The Huskies fell behind by five (46-41) at the first media timeout of the second half (15:58). But NIU went on an ensuing 9-5 spurt, and took a 52-51 lead after a dunk by Memphis, Tenn., native Najul Ervin. Houston's layup with 9:41 remaining extended the Tigers' lead back to four, 57-53, but NIU re-gained control. The Huskies went on an 8-0 run, capped off by two deep jumpers by Sean Smith, and went ahead, 65-57.

But Tennessee State's Parker Smith single-handedly brought the Tigers back, scoring eight-consecutive points, including two three-pointers, and tied the game at 65-65 with 3:47 remaining. Tennessee State took a 71-69 lead at the 2:13 mark after a tip-in by Darius Cox, and his two free throws with 46 seconds remaining gave TSU a 73-71 advantage. Storm drew a foul on Cox with 13 seconds left, and drilled two free throws to tie the game at 73-73.

Houston scored with just five seconds left, and stretched the lead to 75-73. The Tigers knocked the ball out-of-bounds with 1.9 seconds remaining, and NIU used a timeout. Anderson's potential game-winning three-point shot missed, and the Tigers secured their first win of the season.

The Huskies will depart for Anchorage, Ala., and the Great Alaska Shootout Monday (Nov. 24). NIU will play three non-conference games in the tournament, and will be in Alaska for six days.