Mattke notches five RBI in 10-3 win over Wisconsin-Green Bay to give Huskies Friday split at Metrodome (2/8)


February 8, 2003


Box Score


KENT, OH --- ESPN bracketbuster committee, please take note: This Northern Illinois University men’s basketball team---that preseason Mid-American Conference also-ran, according to the so-called experts---may have just pulled off the biggest upset of the league’s season with a 67-61 victory over No. 38-rated Kent State University Saturday (February 8) afternoon. The win---NIU’s eighth in its last nine games---snapped an eight-game Golden Flashes’ winning streak.

“I’m speechless,” said Huskie head coach Rob Judson. “I don’t know what to say. I’m humbled. Our kids played so well. They played great defense, they made some big free throws, they got some big rebounds. I’m so happy for them and our staff. Our kids went out and executed. It is hard to describe when you go on the road and win a game like this.”

Freshman guard Anthony Maestranzi silenced a roaring crowd of 5,716 spectators at KSU’s Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center by hitting both ends of a one-and-one free throw situation with 0:13.1 seconds left that gave the visitors a 65-61 lead and Judson the best triumph in his 48-game Northern Illinois coaching tenure.

Defending MAC Postseason Tournament Champion Kent State---which made Elite Eight status in the 2002 National Collegiate Athletic Association Tournamet with a 30-6 won-lost record last March and began the day at 17-2 and tied for 38th in this week’s USA Today / ESPN poll---does not lose often at the MACC facility or in the MAC. The KSU setback marked only the second loss in nine home games this season and the ninth loss in the last 77 in the MACC since 1998-99.

Best of all, Judson’s Huskies won the showdown of Mid-Am division leaders and stay in the West top spot for the eighth straight day with an 8-3 mark in loop play, heading into this Tuesday’s (February 11) 7:05 p.m. (CST) test in NIU’s new Convocation Center against Ohio University and the nation’s No. 1 rebounder in 6-foot-7, 260-pound Brandon Hunter.

“The Convocation Center needs to rock Tuesday,” Judson added, overcoming his momentary lapse in thought.

Northern Illinois rallied from early 18-8 and 25-16 deficits in the first half, only to stay close, and then go on a 12-2 run during the final 5:31 of the opening 20 minutes for a 32-29 lead at intermission. Baskets by P.J. Smith, Jay Bates, and back-to-back three-pointers by frosh swingman Todd Peterson pulled the Huskies in front.

“We overcame some early jitters and some other adversity,” Judson said. “What an atmosphere here. This is a big win for our players and our staff. We just wanted to contest their (KSU’s) shots and box out on rebounds. We were able to win by making some shots at the end. We made some big free throws down the stretch to close the game out. Anthony Maestranzi stepped up and made two big free throws with the crowd going crazy to seal the victory.”

Judson’s Northern Illinois quintet did more than just contest Kent State’s shots. The Golden Flashes, which led the NCAA in Division I three-point basketball percentage (.442) prior to the game, could only convert on 9-of-31 (.290) shots from behind the arch and finished the afternoon with a season-low .377 overall field-goal percentage on 20-of-53 shots. At the same time, the Huskies shot .568 from the field (25-of-44) and a clutch 12-of-20 (.600) in the second half. The changing Judson defenses---man-to-man, plus the 1-2-2 and 2-3 zones---also helped hold Kent State’s top scorer, 6-foot-5, 250-pound forward Antonio Gates (21.4 points-per-game average) to only 12 points and eight field goals attempts.

The game was tied five times in the second half---the last time at 46-all on a Maestranzi three-point jump shot at the 10:17 mark. Peterson, who topped Northern Illinois with 17 points and seven rebounds versus Kent, hit a trifecta from the left wing at 9:34 for a 49-46 advantage with 9:34 that the Cardinal and Black would never lose. Of course, KSU didn’t go down without a fight and pulled within two points three times during the climatic 7:37 (53-51, 60-68, and 63-61).

Maestranzi canned his second trey with exactly 7:00 remaining and frosh forward Rome Sanders followed with a right side lay-up off the Huskie “spread” halfcourt offense for a 58-51 lead with 6:06 left. Kent State came back within 58-54 on a Gates foul shot and a lay-up by center Nate Gerwig. Another Gates free throw and then a Eric Haut three-point bomb at 1:53 offset a Marcus Smallwood lay-up and incensed the MACC crowd with the hosts now within 60-58.

Northern Illinois senior guard Jay Bates, who bounced back from a so-so four-point performance in Thursday’s (February 6) 70-61 triumph at Buffalo, scored 14 points at KSU. His one-hand jumper in the paint restored a four-point lead with 38 seconds on the clock. In a bizarre situation where referees Randy Drury and Sam Lickliter whistled simultaneous fouls on two Kent State players, Smallwood---instead of Bates---hit one of two foul shots in the one-and-one situation at 0:20 for the 63-58 lead. Four seconds later, KSU’s Anthony Wilkins canned a trey and then Maestranzi capped the “W” at 0:13.1. Kent is now 17-3 overall and 10-2 in the Mid-Am East. Haut (22 points) and Wilkins (15 points) led KSU in scoring.

: Despite the Kent State height advantage, NIU won the battle of the boards, 30-27, and outscored the Golden Flashes in the paint, 30-18. The victory also marked the Huskies’ sixth straight on the road this season and first at Kent State since February 1, 1986 during Kenny Battle’s sophomore year. With the five three-pointers this afternoon, Peterson set a school single-season freshman trey record. The 6-foot-6 Pekin product now owns 40 for the season---erasing the previous mark (36) set by teammate Al Sewasciuk in 2000--01. In his last two outings, Peterson owns nine treys. With his 12 points at KSU, Smallwood passed Randy Fens (749 career points in 1988-93) and W. L. Moore (750 points in 1962-65) for the No. 44 spot on the all-time Huskie scoring list with 752 markers.

(For further information, please contact Mike Korcek) -30-



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