Huskies End Road Trip with Loss at Utah Valley

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OREM, Utah --The Northern Illinois men’s basketball dropped a 58-47 decision on the road at Utah Valley on Monday night. The Huskies and Wolverines were tied with 16 minutes left in the contest, but an untimely scoring drought by NIU helped propelled Utah Valley to the win.

“We just couldn’t get going in the second half,” said NIU head coach Mark Montgomery. “They made some plays and we didn’t. I thought they were a little tougher, and a little stronger, down low that us. I’m proud that we held them to only 38 percent shooting, but we have to shoot better than 35 percent.”

Freshman wing Abdel Nader (Skokie, Ill./Niles North) scored a team-high eight points while also grabbing six rebounds and collecting three steals. Senior forward Tim Toler (Indianapolis, Ind./Avon/Danville Area CC) added seven points and redshirt sophomore guard Antone Christian (Nashville, Tenn./Martin Luther King Magnet) grabbed a team-high seven rebounds.

A Toler triple and a layup by freshman forward Keith Gray (Chicago, Ill./Brooks Academy) gave NIU an early 5-1 lead, a lead it would hold for most of the opening 10 minutes.

The Huskies led by one, 13-12, until back-to-back threes by Utah Valley put the Wolverines on top, 18-13, with just over eight minutes to play in the first half. A layup by Toler ended a four minute drought for the Huskies and ignited a 7-2 burst that tied the game, 20-20. Sophomore Aksel Bolin (Asker, Norway/Asker) connected on a triple and Toler added another layup to even the score.

Once again, back-to-back triples gave Utah Valley a six-point lead. Senior forward Tyler Storm (Geneseo, Ill./Geneseo) and Nader responded with buckets to bring the Huskies within a pair; a free-throw by Utah Valley closed the first half scoring and gave the Wolverines a 27-24 lead at the break.

Isiah Williams led all scorers with 12 points in the first half; Toler led Northern Illinois with seven points in the opening stanza. Utah Valley went 5-of-9 (55.6 percent) from beyond the three-point line in the opening 20 minutes, NIU was just 2-of-11 (18.2 percent) from long distance.

The Utah Valley lead reached five to begin the second half until a coast-to-coast dunk by Nader and a triple from Storm evened the game, 29-29.

The Storm trifecta was followed by a 14-0 Utah Valley run, giving the Wolverines a 43-29 lead just before the midway point of the second half.

The Huskies were held scoreless for nearly seven minutes as Utah Valley built a lead that was too much to overcome.

NIU committed a season-low 10 turnovers and kept Utah Valley 12 points under its season average. The Huskies shot just 21.1 percent (4-of-19) from the three-point arc while Utah Valley went 7-of-17 (41.2 percent) from beyond the arc.

Williams finished with a game-high 15 for the Wolverines, Geddes Robinson added 12 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.

Northern Illinois will return home to the NIU Convocation Center on Saturday, Dec. 3, when the Huskies host Nebraska-Omaha at 3 p.m.