Al Sewasciuk's seven three-pointers sparks Huskies to 77-62 victory over Drake

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December 4, 2002

 

Box Score

 

MEN'S BASKETBALL FINAL SCORE: NORTHERN ILLINOIS 77, DRAKE 62
DeKALB, IL - With no clear-cut scorer to go to every time out, the Northern Illinois University men's basketball team looks for a different person to step up each night. On Wednesday (December 4) against Drake University it was Al Sewasciuk's (Summit / Argo) turn as he scored a career-high 25 points as the Huskies prevailed 77-62.

 

Northern Illinois wins its second home game in a row to even its record at 3-3. The Huskies' third win of the year comes 25 days sooner than last year's third triumph and gives them a .500 record in December for the first time since the 1999-2000 season. The loss levels Drake's record at 3-3.

 

"It was a real team effort," NIU coach Rob Judson said. "This group of guys has been getting better ever day since the DePaul game. Our team is making progress."

 

Led by Sewasciuk's career-high seven three-pointers, NIU was very prolific from behind the arc for the second-straight game as it hit 11-for-24 (45.8 percent). The 6-foot-4 guard fell one short of the Huskie single-game record of eight three-pointers scored by current assistant Donald Whiteside against Wright State (Mar. 5, 1990). The Huskies set season-highs with 49.0 percent shooting (25-of-51) from the floor along with their three-point rate.

 

While Sewasciuk came up one shot short of a record, freshman Anthony Maestranzi (Bartlett) put his name down in the record books. With his second three-pointer of the game, the 5-foot-10 guard set a new school single-season mark with his eighth consecutive three-pointer after hitting his last six shots at Valparaiso Saturday. He breaks the record set by Marcus Coty versus Bethel College (six) and Wisconsin-Green Bay (one) during the 1988 campaign and the seven straight threes from Donte Parker against Illinois-Chicago (Dec. 13, 1996).

 

Forward Marcus Smallwood (Elgin) was the only NIU starter to reach double figures as he scored 17 points, pulled down a team-high seven rebounds and dished out four assists. The Huskies got 65 percent (50-of-77) of their points off the bench, led by Sewasciuk's 25. Guard Jay Bates (Chicago / Curie) followed with eight markers and four assists to go along with seven points and six boards from Julian McElroy (Chicago / Gordon Tech).

 

"We took a big step tonight," Judson added. "Marcus battled. Al, we knew could make shots. We talk about Julian being our 'whatever guy.' He does whatever we need."

 

Northern Illinois took advantage of a road-tested Drake team that has been away from home for more than week. The Bulldogs came straight from last week's Big Island Tournament (Nov. 29-Dec. 1) in Hilo, HI, to DeKalb for Wednesday's game. The Huskies' aggressive defense forced Drake into 21 turnovers, leading to 25 NIU points. But NIU committed 17 miscues for 21 Bulldog points and Drake held a 36-27 rebounding advantage.

 

The difference in the contest was shooting as the visitors only hit 39.1 percent (18-of-46) from the field and 31.3 percent (5-for-16) behind the arc. For the first time this year, the Huskies shot better than 60 percent at the line as they made 16-of-18 (88.9 percent) from the charity stripe.

 

Drake cut NIU's lead to four (27-23) on a pair of free throws by Josh Robinson at the 5:34 mark of the first half, but scored only six points the rest of the way. The Huskies closed the half on an 18-6 run led by a trio of three-pointers from Sewasciuk to take a 45-29 lead into the break.

 

Northern Illinois' margin never dipped below single digits in the second half and apart from the final tally, was only cut to 15 one other time when Greg Danielson hit a lay-up to make it a 53-38 contest with 16:04 remaining. Danielson posted a double-double with team highs of 14 points and 12 rebounds.

 

The Huskies play their second-straight game at home Saturday (December 7) when they open their Mid-American Conference schedule against Marshall University at 12:05 p.m.

 

--Copy by Michael Smoose

 

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