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NIU men's basketball falls to Eastern Illinois Sunday

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Posted: Sunday, November 20, 2011 7:51 pm

College basketball games are played for 40 minutes barring overtime, no more and no less.

Oddly enough, NIU men's basketball (0-4) seemed to get complacent when it was most crucial in its match-up against Eastern Illinois (2-1), falling 67-55 Sunday.

"It's a tough game," said NIU head men's basketball coach Mark Montgomery. "It came down to the last five minutes. I thought our guys played for 30-some minutes. With about five, six minutes to go, [Eastern Illinois] went on a big run. We just couldn't respond."

The Panthers came out shooting a perfect three-for-three from the three point line, taking a 13-5 lead in the first five minutes.

NIU came back, however, almost drawing even by the end of the first half at 33-31.

"We didn't have a whole lot on the inside, we played in spurts offensively," said Eastern Illinois' coach Mike Miller. "I think all of those threes came in the first three minutes. I thought they did some things that bothered us. We were not able to penetrate the seams or get to the paint the way we tried to do."

Starting the second half, the Panthers came out and made a three, a jumper and free throw to push their lead to 39-31.

With just under eight minutes left, NIU pulled even at 47, and after that it was all Eastern Illinois with the Huskies in the penalty, committing fouls left and right. Eastern went on a 16-5 run late in the game, sealing the deal.

Panthers' senior guard Jeremy Granger scored a game high 16 points, going 10-11 from the charity stripe. Abdel Nader was the high scorer for NIU with 11, but on 4-13 shooting.

Aside from the fouls and free throws, what ultimately was the deciding factor was turnovers. NIU committed 18 turnovers, to Eastern's seven. Eastern scored 21 points off of those turnovers.

"Sometimes, I forget that I'm playing with a younger team," said senior forward Tim Toler. "I expect a lot more than I really should, even though they're really good. It's a transition that takes a while to adjust to coming from high school to Division I basketball."



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