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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Men’s basketball obliterates Illinois Tech for home win

Joey Trella
Freshman guard Will Lovings-Watts shoots a three pointer against the Illinois Institute of Technology. NIU men’s basketball trounced Illinois Tech by a final score of 107-55. (Joey Trella | Northern Star)

DeKALB – A historic scoring night on Monday from NIU men’s basketball (2-1) led to a 107-55 Huskies blowout over the Illinois Institute of Technology Scarlet Hawks (1-3).

The Huskies’ 107-point outburst was the first time an NIU basketball team scored 100 points since 2015 and the most by an NIU team since 2013 (111). 

“We talked about it upstairs with the staff, if we minus the first nine minutes in Marquette to present day, we’re playing high level basketball on both sides,” said NIU men’s basketball head coach Rashon Burno. “I think we have the talent and the experience with (junior guard) Diggy (David) Coit, (junior guard) Zarique Nutter, (senior guard) Phil (Philmon Gebrewhit) and (senior forward) Harvin (Ibarguen), guys who played in meaningful games last year. So, I’m confident we can keep up the level of play.”

Freshman guard Will Lovings-Watts led the Huskies with 19 points on 7-for-10 shooting but praised his teammates for his strong performance.

“Today in the game, I would get open and make my shots, but it was really just my teammates that were giving me the ball,” Lovings-Watts said. “They saw that I had the hot hand, so they were really trying to get it to me.”

After missing most of the 2022-2023 season due to injury, sophomore forward Xavier Amos has made a big impact early in the season. He was second on the team in scoring with 14 points on 6-for-9 shooting.

“It’s big for me,” Amos said. “I missed a whole bunch of time last year, and I want to get the time back and make the most of it. I just want to be a factor in every game and help the team win.”


In addition to their offensive explosion, the Huskies played lockdown defense. NIU held the Scarlet Hawks to 28.6% shooting, forced 29 turnovers and racked up 17 steals. 

“We started off a little flat, but we started to pick it up defensively, and that got us in transition which led us to get easy baskets,” Amos said. 

Lovings-Watts’ 19 points were the most by a Huskie freshman since former guard Eugene German scored 27 in 2017. After the game, Lovings-Watts was wearing plastic gold chains around his neck awarded by the coaching staff.

“The coaches give us the chains in practice and in the game, they started to do it last game,” Lovings-Watts said. “They started to give the chains for the person that worked the hardest.”

Burno said the Huskies’ strong defensive performance allowed the team to play a faster, more fun brand of basketball.

“It’s a way more fun style for guys to play out in transition, so we really wanted to not be undisciplined in getting steals,” Burno said. “We wanted to be really disciplined, stay to the principles and if they (steals) were there, take them.”


In addition to Lovings-Watts and Amos, the Huskies had 3 more double-digit scorers and 13 total players record a point. 

“I feel like this team has a lot of different weapons that we use, we got a lot of different lineups, a lot of good players,” Lovings-Watts said. “It’s really hard to guard a team that has a whole bunch of scorers and open people.”

Amos said NIU’s recent success has been due to playing team basketball for one another.

“We’re not playing selfish, and we’re looking for each other,” Amos said. “One night, somebody might be going, the next night it’s Will (Lovings-Watts). Any given night, anybody can go for double figure points.”

Burno praised the amount of depth this year’s NIU team has and said getting deeper has been an area of concern since senior guard Keshawn Williams’ injury last season

“It’s (getting deeper) is something that we really wanted to do coming out of last year where we lost Keshawn and we were probably seven-and-a-half deep without Keshawn from Jan. 3 on,” Burno said. “We wanted to have enough bodies to sustain anything, whether it’s injury, sickness, etc, etc.”

When asked about the timetable of Williams’ return, Burno said he’s on track to be back soon but won’t be rushed back.

“Soon, he’s itching,” Burno said. “He’s ahead of schedule, but the beauty of Keshawn’s situation, with the depth we don’t really need to rush anything. So when he’s back, he’ll be 100%.”


The Huskies next game will be against Georgia State University at 1 p.m. Friday in Atlanta, Georgia. The game will be live streamed on ESPN+, and live stats will be available via StatBroadcast.

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