Northern Illinois Comeback Falls Short, Huskies Drop 86-80 Contest At Buffalo

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January 25, 2005

Northern Illinois Comeback Falls Short, Huskies Drop 86-80 Contest At Buffalo

Buffalo, NY - Northern Illinois battled back from a 17-point, second half deficit, but was unable to pull the road upset as it fell 86-80 to the University at Buffalo Tuesday evening in Mid-American Conference action.

Mario Jordan led five Buffalo (11-5, 4-4 MAC) players in double figures, while Mike McKinney (19 points) and Todd Peterson (18 points) combined for 37 points for the Huskies (7-10, 3-6 MAC) in the loss.

Buffalo built 17-point advantages in both halves, but was forced to withstand fierce Northern Illinois rallies to hang on. Back-to-back treys by Calvin Cage and Jordan in the first half forged the Bulls in front 26-9 at the 11:56 mark. After the two teams traded buckets to keep the Bulls ahead 29-13, NIU responded with an 18-7 run over the next 5:29 to slice the margin down to five, 36-31.

Peterson led the Northern Illinois rally as he buried 4-of-5 treys, including triples on back-to-back possessions to silence the raucous Alumni Arena crowd. While Peterson finished the game with 18, the junior forward scored 16 of his points in the first half and finished with 4-of-6 shooting from bonus distance. Both of his misses came on desperation heaves as the shot clock was about to expire. For the season, Peterson ranks No. 7 nationally with 50-percent shooting (45-of-90) from three point range. Since turning 21 last Saturday (Jan. 22), Peterson is averaging 24.5 points per game (two games) including a career high 31 points in an 87-74 win over Eastern Michigan on Jan. 22.

That margin remained at five until after halftime (51-46), when the Bulls again exploded with a 20-8 run to push the lead back to 17, 71-54 at 12:44.

Following a Northern Illinois timeout, the Huskie defense stiffened and held the Bulls scoreless over the next 4:42 to kick start a 12-0 run of their own. A Zach Pancratz trey, four points from McKinney, four from Cory Sims and a turnaround jumper from the team's lone senior, Johnathan Byrd, pulled NIU within five, but that would be as close as the Huskies could get as Buffalo answered with a pair of jumpers to push the margin back to double figures.

NIU cut the margin to six on three occasions late, but a critical put-back by Mark Bortz at 2:35 killed NIU's final attempt to steal the win.

Northern Illinois, who has played nine of its last 12 games away from home, returns to action on Jan. 29 at Ball State University. Game time with the Cardinals is scheduled for Noon (CST).

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