Hot-Shooting UALR Defeats NIU, 97-85

GO HUSKIES Ervin scored a career-high 11 points.
GO HUSKIES
Ervin scored a career-high 11 points.
GO HUSKIES

Dec. 14, 2008

Final Stats

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Sophomore guard Darion "Jake" Anderson continued his torrid scoring stretch with 29 points on a career-high 12 made field goals, but the Northern Illinois men's basketball team (4-6) couldn't overcome a 61.8 percent shooting effort from the field by host Arkansas-Little Rock (7-2), and the Trojans cruised to a 97-85 win over the Huskies at the Jack Stephens Center Sunday afternoon.

UALR put six players in double figures, including four-of-five starters, led by Steven Moore's 22 points. Brandon Patterson also posted a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. NIU junior forward Najul Ervin (11 points) recorded a career-high mark in scoring for the second-consecutive game, and Michael Patton (9) and Jeremy Landers (7) each had season-high scoring outputs.

The Trojans built as large as a 26-point lead late in the first-half, and NIU countered with a 62-54 scoring advantage in the second stanza. It was the most points the Huskies have scored in a single-half this season. UALR held statistical advantages in offensive rebounds (18-9), assists (24-9) and total rebounds (42-35). The Trojans shot 62.1 percent from the field in the first half, and were 61.8 percent in the second frame.

"We knew coming in (tonight) that (Arkansas) Little Rock would have something to prove after their loss against Wright State at home (Friday)," said head coach Ricardo Patton. "They certainly played a great game. We missed some defensive assignments in the first-half, and dug ourselves a hole that was too much to overcome.

"I was really proud of how the guys battled back in the second-half, and we didn't quit. This team has played hard all year long, but at times, we haven't played smart; and that was the case in the first-half, both offensively and defensively."

NIU fell behind, 10-5, at the first media timeout (15:25), after Patterson converted two early field goals. Anderson kept the Huskies within striking distance over the ensuing eight minutes, converting the Huskies' only three field goals during the stretch.

UALR's first double-digit lead came at the 7:42 mark of the first-half, after Courtney Jackson's transition dunk pushed the advantage to 22-11. NIU drew within single-digits just one more time in the half, eventually seeing the Trojans' lead reach a 26-point margin (43-17) with 1:32 remaining in the opening stanza. The Huskies scored the final six points of the half, capped off by a three-pointer by Michael Patton as time expired, to draw back within 20 points (43-23). Anderson had five of the Huskies' eight first-half field goals.

Ricardo Patton re-shuffled his starting lineup for the second-half, with Anderson, Ervin, Sean Kowal, Jeremy Landers and Michael Patton as the starters. NIU pulled within 18 points after a three-pointer by Michael Patton with 17:33 remaining, but UALR stretched the advantage back to 21 points, 53-32, after Matt Mouzy answered with a three on the other end.

Anderson's 11th field goal drew the Huskies within 16 points (60-44) with 11:59 remaining, capping off a 6-2 run. After falling behind by 22 points again, NIU went on a 19-11 run, and cut the lead to 84-70 with 4:05 remaining. The Huskies pulled within 11 points (94-83) with 50 seconds remaining, but could draw no closer.

NIU will return home to host in-state rival Southern Illinois Wednesday (Dec. 17). Tip-off from the Convocation Center is set for 7 p.m.