Huskies fall to Akron in MAC opener


Zulfiqar Ahmed

Akron sophomore wing Ali Ali (left) plays man defense against senior guard Anthony Crump during Tuesday night’s Mid-American Conference matchup at the Convocation center in DeKalb. Crump finished the game third in NIU scoring, recording 11 points in their 70-54 defeat at home. (Zulfiqar Ahmed | Northern Star)

By Ethan Gonzales, Sports Editor

The NIU men’s basketball team was defeated by the University of Akron 76-51 in their first conference matchup of the year.

Akron junior forward Enrique Freeman scored 27 points and recorded 15 rebounds for the Zips. Junior guard Greg Tribble contributed 16 points in the winning effort for Akron.

The Huskies provided almost no resistance in the paint, as they were outscored 26-38 in the paint for the game. Akron shot 46% from the field as a team.

Sloppy play and cold shooting plagued the Huskies again, as they turned the ball over 19 times and shot 35% from the field. The Zips scored a total of 24 points off turnovers as compared to NIU’s eight points off turnovers.

“It’s (turnovers) been our Achilles heel all year,” NIU head coach Rashon Burno said. “Eight of those (turnovers) were moving screens. That’s taking away shot attempts away from the basket.”

The Huskies recorded 24 personal fouls while the Zips recorded 19. Burno said he was frustrated specifically with the amount of moving screens called on NIU, a stat that he said disrupted the flow of the game.

“It took us completely out of rhythm,” Burno said. “The thing is most of the fouls that were called on us were moving screens. It doesn’t make sense because there’s the same thing (happening) both ways. You look at the flow of the game. It was a choppy game. No team got in a rhythm. It was a really awkward game from a coaching standpoint.”

Akron forced 12 NIU turnovers in the first half, resulting in 16 points. After leading for most of the half, the Huskies allowed a 13-2 run over a four minute stretch. The Zips took the lead to end the first half at a score of 28-26. Junior forward Enrique Freeman led the way for the Zips in the first half, recording 12 points and five rebounds.

Sophomore guard Zarique Nutter scored nine points and tallied eight rebounds in the first half.

The Zips blew the game open in the second half as they outscored NIU 48-25. Junior guard Keshawn Williams, coming off a career-high 32-point game, scored 10 points on 4-17 shooting. Williams leads the Huskies in points per game with 18.8.

Nutter finished the game as the Huskies’ leading scorer with 11 points.

The Huskies play their next match against the University at Buffalo at 11 a.m. on Saturday in Buffalo. The game will be streamed via ESPN+ and broadcasted on The Varsity Network radio station.