NIU men's basketball dropped its only 2011 exhibition game to Carthage in overtime Friday, 74-40.
NIU was led by freshman Abdel Nader, who recorded a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Senior Tim Toler added 17 points and seven rebounds.
The Huskies did not get off to the start they were hoping for, trailing 10-0 after four minutes.
"I know the first five minutes of the game you want to come out stronger," said Mark Montgomery, NIU men's basketball head coach. "You don't want to spot someone 10 points and then decide to play."
Following the timeout, NIU answered with a 16-2 run to give it the lead, 16-10. Carthage scored a basket to make the score 16-12, but NIU followed that with a 12 -2 run to make the score 28-16.
The run was sparked by freshman DeAndre Barnette's three pointer. Toler followed that up with a three-point play, converting from the line.
Freshman Marquavis Ford also hit a three pointer and freshman Zach Miller would add two points on a floater. NIU would finish the first half strong and take a 32-19 lead into the half.
Toler started the second half with a made two pointer, following that, the Red Men went on a 10-0 run to make the score 34-29 and forced Montgomery to take a timeout.
"In the second half, you want your team to come out with more fire," Montgomery said. "You can't let a team go on another 10-2 run. I think it needs to be a defensive mindset like I've said since day one."
After Toler hit two free throws, freshman Luke Johnson, senior Max Cary and junior Malcom Kelly each hit a three to give Carthage a 38-37 lead with 14:55 to play.
NIU took the lead numerous times in the second half, and Carthage seemed to always answer with a three. With 45 seconds remaining and NIU leading 64-61, Carthage's Kelly hit a three to tie the game 64-64 to send the game to overtime.
The game was tied at 66, with four minutes left, and Carthage hit back-to-back threes to make the score 72-66. With one minute left, NIU's Antone Christian finished a three-point play to make the score 73-70.
NIU had a chance to tie the game with a three, but Toler missed the shot to tie to the game. In overtime, NIU was only able to hit one shot from the field, but went 4-5 from the free throw line. Carthage would finish the game with 13 threes, nine of them coming in the second half.
"We let them get a lot of looks that we shouldn't have," Nader said. "But for the most part, they were just knocking shots down. They hit some tough shots, too, and there's not much you can do about that."
Montgomery saw some good things from his team in this game, but there is still a lot can work on.
"We have to share the ball more," Montgomery said. "We have to limit our turnovers and we have to fight harder on defense. But other than that, I think that some guys got some valuable game experience in front of a crowd with MAC officials."