Scores 24 As Ball State Rallies For 67-59 MAC Hoops Win Over Northern
Muncie, IN -
Northern Illinois men's basketball battled the Ball State Cardinals
for 40 minutes, but wasn't able to get over that proverbial "hump"
as the Huskies dropped a 67-59 decision Saturday afternoon in Muncie.
The Huskies (7-11, 3-7 MAC) led by as many as nine (49-40) in the
second half, but weren't able to overcome 3-of-15 shooting from
three-point range and 18 turnovers as Ball State (10-5, 5-3 MAC)
grabbed the win to improve to 8-0 at home.
Dennis Trammell scored a game high 24 points (16 in the second half)
for the Cardinals on 5-of-7 shooting from three-point range, while
Cory Sims led a balanced NIU attack with 13 point and five rebounds.
"Trammell got hot in the second half, but we have to play better
defense," head coach Rob Judson said. "It's as simple
as that. We have to play tough on the defensive end and that will
great opportunities offensively. I felt like our defensive effort
was there through most of the game, but it has to be there for 40
After BSU opened the second half with seven consecutive points to
cut the Northern Illinois lead to 36-35, the Huskies used a 5-0
rally to regain a comfortable margin. A Sims jumper and a three-point
play by Todd Peterson helped slow a hot Ball State start and kept
NIU in control. Another Trammell trey cut the NIU margin back to
three, before Anthony Maestranzi converted on a four-point play
and Sims hit another driving lay up to give the Huskies that nine-point
Northern Illinois continued to hold the lead throughout the next
eight minutes, but Ball State finally seized control on a Terrance
Chapman three-point play. Despite falling behind by five, 61-56
at 2:47, Northern Illinois continued to fight as a Mike McKinney
three-point play cut the margin back to two. That would be as close
as the Huskies could get however, as Ball State made their final
four free throws to seal the win.
"We have had so many games like this on the road," Judson
said. "We are right there, but it's always a possession or
two that keeps us from getting over the hump. We have to seize the
Stifling defense and a balanced offensive effort helped the Huskies
carry a 36-28 lead into the locker room. Despite committing nine
turnovers versus Ball State's pressure defense, the Huskies buckled
down and held the Cardinals to just 26.5 percent shooting (9-of-34)
from the floor and just 3-of-11 from three-point range. Conversely,
the Huskies had all nine players contribute to those 36 first-half
tallies led by senior Johnathan Byrd who hit a pair of field goals
and drilled all three of his free throws.
The Cardinals grabbed an early 7-4 lead on five consecutive points
from Julien Mills and a lay-up by Terrance Chapman before NIU settled
in offensively. A James Hughes dunk and back-to-back lay-ups by
Mike McKinney and Byrd helped the Huskies to a 7-0 run that put
them in front for the rest of the half. Ball State managed to tie
the game on three occasions in the opening period, with the final
tie, 20-20, coming at 6:32 on a pair of Peyton Stovall free throws.
From that point, Northern Illinois responded with an 11-2 run to
gain a 31-22 lead, its largest of the half. Four consecutive free
throws by Byrd and Zach Pancratz, a lay-up by Bryson McKenzie and
a three-point play by Cory Sims silenced the stunned Worthen Arena
crowed and forced the Cardinals to use a timeout. Two more Pancratz
free throws and an Anthony Maestranzi coast-to-coast lay-up sandwiched
a Darren Yates trey and a Dennis Trammell three-point play, leaving
NIU with a dwindling 33-28 lead. Todd Peterson came to the rescue
just before the half-time gun, burying a deep triple on the wing
to send NIU to the break with the eight-point margin.
returns to action on Feb. 3 with a home contest against the Marshall
Thundering Herd at 7:05 p.m. The contest will be televised live
on Comcast SportsNet Chicago.