Huskie guards shine as NIU wallops Eastern Illinois

Sophomore+guard+Keshawn+WIlliams+attempts+a+layup+during+Saturdays+game+against+the+University+of+Toledo+Rockets.+Williams+finished+as+NIUs+leading+scorer+with+19+points+in+the+100-72+loss+at+the+Convocation+Center+in+DeKalb.+%28NIU+Athletics%29

Courtesy of NIU Athletics

Sophomore guard Keshawn WIlliams attempts a layup during Saturday’s game against the University of Toledo Rockets. Williams finished as NIU’s leading scorer with 19 points in the 100-72 loss at the Convocation Center in DeKalb. (NIU Athletics)

By Ethan Gonzales, Assistant Sports Editor

NIU’s dominant guard play led the way for the Huskies as they got back into the win column with a 90-70 victory over Eastern Illinois University.

The Huskies’ backcourt dominated the Panthers’ defense, as they combined for 49 points in the dominant win. Junior guard Keshawn Williams poured in 17 points on 6-10 shooting to lead all scorers. Sophomore guards David Coit and Zarique Nutter recorded 16 points each.

Coit was lights out from three-point range, draining five of his seven attempts from deep. Along with his shooting, Coit tallied five rebounds and five assists in the winning effort.

Senior guard Darweshi Hunter scored a quiet 10 points on 3-5 shooting, but NIU head basketball coach Rashon Burno noticed more than just scoring from his veteran player.

“After the Northern Iowa game, we talked in the locker room about opportunities and making the most of them. He (Hunter) was the one guy who said, ‘Coach, next time I get an opportunity, I’m not surrendering it,’” Burno said. “He came in and gave us positive energy. We didn’t lose a drop when we went to the bench, and he was a big catalyst for that.”

The Huskies recorded 21 assists as a team. Senior guard Kaleb Thornton contributed five assists off the bench along with 10 points and three rebounds.

NIU led 42-36 at the end of the first half, but was able to blow the game open in the second. The Huskies shot 61.7% from the field with 14 three-pointers made as a team.

Eastern Illinois came out strong to start the game, shooting 61.5% from the field in the first half. The Huskies held the Panthers to only 34 points in the second half, forcing Eastern Illinois into a subpar 36.4% to finish the game.

“They were shooting a blistering 61 (percent) and 50 (percent) from three,” Burno said. “Which is obviously uncharacteristic for us from a defensive standpoint. I didn’t like how we came out. But to these guys’ (NIU’s) credit, we went in with the halftime lead, and those guys came out for the first four minutes and played the right way.”

Freshman forward/center Yanic Konan Niederhauser made his season debut for the Huskies on Wednesday. Niederhauser made his presence felt in his first action of the season, scoring seven points in 11 minutes.

“Well he (Niederhauser) gives us a presence around the rim,” Burno said. “He’s a guy that is 6’ 10”, he can shoot it, he can put the ball on the floor. Talented. He changes us because you gotta deal with him at the rim.”

The Huskies will face the University of Idaho in their next match as they continue their eight-game road trip. The game will take place at 2 p.m. on Friday in Moscow, Idaho, at the Idaho Central Credit Union Arena. The game will be streamed on ESPN+ and live stats will be available via SIDEARM Stats. The Varsity Network will be broadcasting the game via radio.