Second-half slip leaves NIU winless after season debut


Mingda Wu

NIU senior guard Kaleb Thornton defends against a University of Illinois Springfield player during Monday’s game between the Huskies and Prairie Stars at the Convocation Center in DeKalb. (Mingda Wu | Northern Star)

DeKALB – Men’s basketball (0-1, 0-0 MAC) fell just short of University of Illinois Springfield (1-0) in an 83-77 loss in Monday’s season opener at the NIU Convocation Center.

Junior guard Keshawn Williams and sophomore guard David Coit combined for 54 of the Huskies’ 77 points in the loss. The two were also the only players to score double-digit points in the game. Williams’ statline included 23 points, going 7-for-14 from the field, five rebounds, two assists and one steal.

Monday was Coit’s first official game with the Huskies after he transferred in from Atlantic Cape Community College. His final stats were 31 points, on 12-for-29 shooting and 6-for-20 from three, three assists, three rebounds and four steals. Coit said he was frustrated with his shot selections and amount of shots he attempted.

“I took too many shots,” Coit said. “I feel that the team knows I can score the ball, my team is confident in me, and I think I was missing a lot of shots because I was rushing my shots. In the second half, I just felt like we had to get something going and my team gave me the confidence to do that, but 29 shots is terrible.”

Sophomore guard Zion Russell was able to get himself 23 minutes of playing time off the bench in the game. He totaled nine points on 3-for-5 shooting, two rebounds and one steal.

With seven minutes left in the first half, the Huskies were trailing by 10 points, down 30-20. NIU was able to go on an 11-0 run in three minutes and took a 31-30 lead with under five minutes to play in the first half. NIU finished the first half strong, ending it with an 18-7 scoring run in the final seven minutes. Williams was able to score nine of NIU’s final 18 points during the end of the first half. NIU went into the half with a 38-37 lead.

“I think momentum was on our side, but offense always starts with stops so I was just feeding off the energy we were getting from the stops we were getting on defense,” Williams said.

After the Huskies’ ended the first half with the lead. They were unable to maintain their lead, as they were outscored in the second half 46-39. In the second half, the Huskies were unable to prevent UIS from scoring on three-point shots. UIS shot 7-for-14 from three point range in the second half, giving the team 21 total points from three in the second half. UIS’s largest lead of the game came in the second half, when they took a 65-50 lead with nine minutes to go in the second half.

“Disappointing performance from start to finish,” head men’s basketball coach Rashon Burno said. “We didn’t do a good job to have these guys ready to play and they came in with nothing to lose, but they (Illinois Springfield) shot extremely well. Anytime you wanna string together an upset, you have to do a tremendous job and make threes, and they made 11-for-27 and they did a good job of commanding the backboard, so we got a lot to correct.”

The Huskies’ next game will be against the Northwestern University Wildcats at 7 p.m. Friday at the Welsh Ryan Arena in Evanston.