Home Winning Streak To Five, Topple MAC West Leading Bowling Green
Northern Illinois Convocation Center is quickly becoming a
graveyard for Mid-American Conference foes. The Huskies reiterated
that fact on Wednesday, as they used an outstanding defensive effort
and got 11-of-19 three-point shooting to earn an impressive 72-61
win over the MAC West Division leading Bowling Green Falcons.
19-8 midway through the opening half, Northern Illinois regrouped
in grand fashion, outscoring the Falcons 24-6 through the rest of
the period to take a 32-25 lead into the break. NIU then tightened
its grip defensively to push its lead to 20 (49-29) before coming
away with the 11-point triumph.
say enough about the heart this team has shown game-in and game-out,
head coach Rob Judson said. They are a resilient group that
just loves to play together. Weve been on the road to Toledo,
OH, on the road to Ypsilanti, MI, and on the road to Dayton, OH,
and come back to the Convocation Center and play the top team in
the MAC West. Thats a tough chore and our guys just kept fighting.
I love coaching this team.
starting backcourt of Cory Sims (17 points), Anthony Maestranzi
(16 points) and Mike McKinney (15 points) paced the Huskie offensive
effort, combining for 48 of the teams 72 points, while hitting
a combined 9-of-12 shots from bonus distance. John Reimold led Bowling
Green with 22 points and eight rebounds, but was one of just two
BGSU players to surpass double figures. Josh Almanson scored 14
points on the night, 12 of which came in the opening half.
two of the MACs top scorers, Judson said. When
you look at the MAC West, there are a lot of talented seniors. Reimold
and Almanson are two of them. We did a nice job on Reimold in the
first half (five points) and did well on Almanson in the second
(two points). They will get their points, they are good basketball
players that average 18 points a night. We just had to stay positive
and keep battling away.
at the 9:51 mark, head coach Rob Judson used a :30-second timeout
to regroup his young squad. After watching the visiting Falcons
hit 6-of-10 shots to open the contest to build that double-figure
lead, Judson put NIU into a 3-2 zone, which ultimately turned the
tide. Of course the Huskies thrived on the offensive end during
the stretch as well, scoring 24 points over the final 9:31, but
it was NIUs resilient defensive that forced the MACs
top shooting team (49.7 percent) into 2-of-10 shooting the rest
of the half to flip that 11-point deficit into an eight-point lead.
cut the margin into single digits with a pair of free throws, before
a McKinney lay-in, a Sims jumper and the second of four Maestranzi
treys brought NIU storming back (21-17). A three-point play by Northern
Illinois lone senior, Johnathan Byrd, cut the deficit to 21-20
(6:29), before Byrds second hoop, a nifty fast-break lay-up
gave the Huskies a lead they would never relinquish. Back-to-back
treys by McKinney and Maestranzi quickly built NIUs lead to
seven (30-23) at the 3:02 mark and set the stage for the huge MAC
a nice job of rotating our zone and recognizing what each of their
(Bowling Greens) strengths were, Maestranzi said
of NIUs zone. We forced them into a few difficult shots
and rebounded well from there on.
kept the defensive pressure on in the second half to extend its
margin to as many as 20 (49-29) by the 12:13 mark. Although the
Huskies enjoyed a 24-6 run to close the opening half, technically
the run could be considered a 41-10 spurt, as they outscored BGSU
17-4 to open the second half. McKinney used a trademark ally-oop
dunk to fuel the rally, which also saw the 6-foot-4 sophomore hit
two more treys en route to a career high three, three-pointers.
Byrd added four points as well and freshman Zach Pancratz buried
a triple from the wing to cap the surge.
A senior laden
team with two of the MACs top-three scorers (Almanson and
Reimold), Bowling Green battled back to cut the margin to four (53-49)
at 4:48. The Falcons had an opportunity to slice into the lead even
further, but the junior Maestranzi stole the ball away from Perrick
Robinson and connected on his fourth three-pointer of the evening
to push the lead back to seven (56-49) at 4:22.
running on fumes down the stretch, and our team showed a gutsy performance
to pull it out, Judson said.
then hit a pair of free throws and Sims drained his second triple
of the game to push NIUs lead back to 11 (61-50) and send
a vocal crowd of 2,502 home with a win.
With the win, NIU improved to 10-15 overall and 6-10 in MAC action,
while Bowling Green fell to 16-8, 9-6 in MAC play.
For the first
time since Dec. 1 (Bradley) and Dec. 4 (Akron), Northern Illinois
will enjoy back-to-back home games when it hosts the Ball State
Cardinals on Sunday (Feb. 27) at 1:05 p.m. Its Alumni Day
at the Convocation Center as well, with the Huskies hosting the
fifth annual Alumni Game at 10 a.m.