Dec. 30, 2009
DEKALB, Ill. - Junior Xavier Silas ignited a mid-game comeback against No. 18/19 Temple, but his game-high 26 points were not enough to hold off the Owls, as the Huskies dropped a 70-60 decision Wednesday night at the Convocation Center.
With the loss, NIU fell to 2-8 on the season, with six of those losses coming against teams that played in the 2009 postseason. Temple (11-2) held on against the Huskies to extend its win streak to seven games. The Owls have not dropped a game since Nov. 28.
"[These games] prepare us for a possible run to the NCAA Tournament, and that is ultimately our goal, to make the NCAA Tournament. They definitely get us ready for the rest of the season," said Huskie center Michael Fakuade.
Temple opened the game's scoring, jumping out to a quick 7-0 start before Fakuade drained his first three-pointer of the year to end the run. However, Temple proved too big, blocking consecutive shots to jumpstart another big run, this time outscoring the Huskies 15-4. The Owls tallied six blocks in the match-up, with five coming in the game's first 10 minutes.
NIU then found its legs to go on a 15-4 scoring tear of their own to head into the locker room at halftime down, 31-24, after trailing the Owls by as many as 18 in the opening frame.
Silas recorded a defensive block over Temple's Rahlir Jefferson with six minutes left in the half, to spark the Huskie run. After a converted three-pointer by teammate Mike DiNunno, Silas hit three consecutive treys to pull the Huskies within 10. Silas knocked down a free throw before drawing a charge that led to layup from Lee Fisher on the other end to finish the Huskie run.
"It was my teammates finding me at the right time. Before, I wasn't making my shots and my teammates had my back and kept my confidence up," said Silas.
Strong defense by both Silas and junior guard Michael Patton led the Owls to miss nine of their last eleven tries to close out the half.
The Huskies continued to knock on Temple's door after the break, knocking the deficit down to just two (33-31) in the second half's opening minutes. Crowd noise came into play after a three-pointer from Darion "Jake" Anderson, causing Temple's Micheal Eric to miss his tries from the charity stripe. Silas took advantage of the missed shots and knocked down a mid-range jumper to pull the Huskies within two.
However, the Owls pulled away from the Huskies for good after a 12-4 scoring run that led to a comfortable Temple lead. NIU would only pull within eight points before falling at the Convo for the fourth time in six games this season.
Anderson followed Silas with a double-digit scoring output, pouring in 15 points to go along with a team leading seven rebounds. Fakuade also chipped in six points to reach the 100-point plateau in just 30 career games as a Huskie.
NIU returns to the Convocation Center Jan. 2 to host North Dakota at 3 p.m.