Facing a tough test to start its season, NIU men's basketball suffered a 97-78 at the hands of the Northwestern Wildcats.
In front of 4,001 fans, the largest Convocation Center crowd since a 2005 game against Kansas State, the Huskies (0-1 overall) were behind only five points at halftime, but a 16-4 run by the Wildcats (1-0) over the first 3:07 of the second half put the game out of reach for NIU.
"We went to the [1-3-1] zone and we turned them over a few times," said Northwestern head coach Bill Carmody. "There weren't too many missed shots I didn't think. In the second half, we're making shots and it just sort of opened it up."
Both teams made at least half their shots, with the Wildcats shooting 50 percent on the game, while NIU shot 52 percent.
The difference, however, was in NIU's amount of turnovers and offensive rebounds allowed.
The Huskies turned the ball over 19 times, and allowed 16 offensive rebounds to the Wildcats, which resulted in Northwestern taking 20 more shots total.
"Defensively, we had hands in faces at times, and [Northwestern] just really shot the lights out," said NIU head coach Ricardo Patton. "The 19 turnovers... that's being your own enemy."
While the Huskies certainly didn't help themselves, it was largely the second-half play of Northwestern guard John Shurna that led to NIU's demise.
Shurna shot 0-for-2 from three-point land in the first half, but ended the game 7-for-10 from beyond the arc.
Shurna scored 25 total points in the second half.
NIU guard Xavier Silas led the Huskies in scoring, pouring in 25 of his own on 6-for-15 shooting. Silas was also a perfect 12-for-12 from the free throw line.