The first game in coach Mark Montgomery’s second season did not turn out the way he had hoped.
Men’s basketball (0-1) played a close contest against Nebraska Omaha (1-0), but ultimately came out on the losing end, 77-64.
“They are an extremely well-coached and fundamentally sound team,” Montgomery said in a news release. “Tonight you saw one team with a lot of experience and one team with a lot of inexperience.”
The Huskies with all of that inexperience held the edge in several categories but struggled in a key area. The young team committed 24 turnovers. Senior guard Antone Christian knows it’s tough to find success with a statistic like that.
“Twenty-four turnovers, that’s at least 48 points out the window,” Christian said. “There may have been a little bit of jitterbugs and what not. We’re gonna be fine down the road. We’re talented.”
The Huskies were within three points as late as midway through the second half, down 51-48.
But at times the Huskies had trouble stopping Nebraska Omaha defensively. Nebraska Omaha was able to continue its scoring pace the rest of the game. The team was led by sophomore guard CJ Carter, who scored 16 points while going 10-14 from the charity stripe.
“Omaha’s experience definitely got them over the hump in the second half,” Montgomery said in a news release.
The Huskies were led in scoring by junior forward Aksel Bolin, who poured in 11 points. Freshman point guard Daveon Balls was the only other Huskie in double figures as he added 10 points.
NIU held the edge in rebounding, leading 35-27, and was more dominant 12-1 on the offensive boards. Despite that significant edge in offensive rebounding, the Huskies still lost by double digits.
Christian knows the Huskies will have to turn those extra possessions into scores to find wins.
“That’s one of our cornerstones of our program, is rebounding,” Christian said. “Last year [we were] top two or three in the MAC. Definitely gotta capitalize on the offensive end when we get our rebounds.”
While there were several factors that contributed to the first loss of the season, Montgomery knows that his team was not without a shot at grabbing its first win.
“It was a game of runs,” Montgomery said in a news release. “We cut their lead, they came back and made a great run, but we answered again. It was there for the taking but you have to execute and take care of the ball down the stretch.”